Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz warned Turkey that British and US proposals to impose "smart" sanctions on Iraq would damage the Turkish economy, in talks in Baghdad Monday, June 11, with Turkish envoy Faruq Logoglu.
Aziz warned of "the negative consequence on Iraqi-Turkish economic relations if Ankara implements the resolution" on which the UN Security Council is expected to vote at the start of July, the official news agency INA reported. But he also stressed "Iraq's will work to preserve its ties with Turkey in the interests of the peoples of the two countries".
Turkey, meanwhile, also wants "to promote its relations with Iraq in different fields, and my visit falls within that context", said Logoglu, undersecretary of state at the Turkish foreign ministry, also quoted by INA.
He held a separate meeting with Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan, who urged Ankara to resist pressure from Washington. "The decision to widen bilateral cooperation is up to the Iraqi and Turkish governments, and not a third country," said Ramadan. "Any free government must work to meet the aspirations of its people."
Britain, with US backing, has circulated a draft at the Security Council that would abolish curbs on civilian trade with Iraq, while tightening a weapons ban and controls on smuggling outside a UN oil-for-food deal. The United States is counting on Iraq's neighbors to implement tighter controls on the oil trade.
Iraq on June 4 suspended more than two million barrels per day of oil exports under the UN program in protest at the plan, although oil products continue to flow to Iraq's neighbors including Turkey outside UN financial constraints.
Ahead of the halt in exports, Aziz already warned Turkey and Jordan that their lucrative oil and trade links with Iraq would grind to a halt if they cooperated with smart sanctions.
Jordan and Turkey rely heavily on Iraq for their oil needs. Amman imports five million tons a year of Iraqi crude, while Ankara receives around 100,000 barrels a day.
Ankara estimates it has lost $35 billion in trade with Baghdad since a sweeping UN embargo was imposed for Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The oil trade is tolerated but, unlike in the case of Jordan, not covered by a UN exemption.
In Amman, the Jordanian parliament on Monday urged the government to reject smart sanctions and renewed calls for a total lifting of sanctions. ― (AFP, Baghdad)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)