Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammad Said al-Sahhaf said his country was ready to work with the new United Nations humanitarian coordinator, Tun Myat, to help him fulfill his mission, the official INA agency reported. In the meanwhile, three European parliamentarians are on a visit to the country to have a first-hand look at the humanitarian situation.
"We welcome you and declare that Iraq is ready to work with you and offer you all the necessary facilities for you to accomplish your mission successfully," Sahhaf said on greeting the Burmese diplomat.
"The application of the oil-for-food program does not present any problem, if you do not take the political aspect of this program into account," said Sahhaf.
Tun Myat said he would work to "remove obstacles in the way of the program and ease the suffering of the Iraqi people," the INA agency reported.
He is charged with overseeing the oil-for-food program, taking over from German Hans Von Sponeck who quit in protest at the effects of the international embargo were having on Iraqi civilians.
EUROPEAN DEPUTIES VISIT IRAQ
Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, gave three visiting European parliamentarians a breakdown on the effect of international sanctions on his country Monday, the official INA agency reported.
The three arrived Sunday and heard Aziz deliver a "detailed break-down on the impact of the unjust embargo imposed on Iraq and the real reasons for its being continued, despite Iraq's respecting its commitments relative to UN security council resolutions,” the agency said.
The three deputies -- Bashir Khanbhal of Britain, Niall Andrews of Ireland and Luis Morgantini of Italy -- were told "the continuation of the embargo serves a US strategy aimed at keeping the hegemony of the United States in the Gulf area and over its oil interests," INA said.
Aziz called on the Europeans to "adopt a position which serves their interests and the historical friendly relations linking them to Iraq," the agency said.
Khanbhal was quoted as saying: "This is an initiative from each one of us individually because we are interested in Iraq and we wanted to see for ourselves what the situation is. But it was known to the European Parliament and to our respective parties that we are coming, so it is not a secret mission.
"We have come here so that we can see by ourselves in what state Iraqis are and what impact the embargo has had on the people of Iraq," he reportedly said
"The civilian population has been devastated," said Andrews, "and there is an intellectual bankruptcy in the country.
"I think this is terribly wrong. It's against the charter and the spirit of the United Nations and above all against the spirit of the European parliament." – (AFP)
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