A group of French senators visiting Baghdad have called for the 11-year-old UN embargo on Iraq to be lifted, newspapers reported Wednesday, June 20. "The embargo must be lifted, Iraq having fulfilled its obligations to the UN Security Council resolutions," said senator Serge Mathieu, head of the France-Iraq friendship group in the French Senate.
Mathieu, accompanied by four other senators and three doctors, arrived in Baghdad on Monday on a five-day visit to "bear witness to the solidarity of several fringes of French society with Iraq."
The visit comes at a time when Iraq, which has been under a sweeping embargo since the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, is accusing Paris of working behind the scenes to promote US and British proposals for a new regime of "smart" sanctions.
In talks with the French delegation on Tuesday, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz "regretted" the French-US rapprochement on the proposal for the revision of sanctions.
Iraq's parliamentary speaker Saadun Hammudi, meanwhile, told the delegation in a separate meeting that he hoped Paris will adopt "a fairer attitude, in harmony with international law and conventions."
Mathieu commented that "France has its character, and in my view, bilateral discussions could dispel some of the ambiguities" between Paris and Baghdad.
"I would prefer that France have a more nuanced position in this affair," he went on, saying that after he returns home "we will explain the position of the Iraqi government and we will tell the French government the truth" about the situation in Iraq. ― (AFP, Baghdad)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)