Arab nations should seize the "historic occasion" to express their solidarity with the Iraqi people by sending planes to Baghdad in defiance of the UN embargo, a paper here said Thursday.
"Arab leaders can always seize the historic occasion to support Iraq and its valiant people," Al-Iraq paper said.
"It is time that Arabs say 'no' to the embargo and show solidarity with the Iraqi people in their struggle to break the embargo, which is on its last legs," the paper said.
These comments follow the landing in Baghdad Wednesday of a Jordanian plane carrying an official delegation on the first Arab flight to Iraq since the embargo was imposed in 1990.
Four planes, three Russian and one French, have landed in Baghdad since mid-August. Iceland, India, Syria and Yemen have all expressed their desire to send planes to Iraq.
A second French flight plans to fly from Paris to Baghdad on Friday with about 100 passengers, including several well-known personalities.
"The arrival of planes from friendly countries means all Arab countries without exception have to assume their responsibilities now that it is proved that nothing in Security Council texts forbids civilian flights to Iraq," the paper said.
"Iraqis, who never abandoned their Arab brothers, wished that the first plane to land in Baghdad had been Arab and that the initiative had been taken by the Arabs ahead of others."
Iraq is under international sanctions put into effect after its invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, including an air embargo that is at the heart of the controversy.
The United States and Britain maintain that UN authorisation is needed for to flights to Baghdad, while France, China and Russia, say the UN resolutions do not cover an air embargo and therefore a simple notification of flight plans suffices -- BAGHDAD(AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )