A private Turkish company has put on hold planned charter flights from Turkey to Iraq, the first since the 1991 Gulf War, due to a delay in UN approval, company officials were quoted as saying Thursday, June 21, by Anatolia news agency.
Another reason for the postponement of the flights, originally scheduled to start on Friday, was the imminent revision of the UN sanctions against Iraq at the Security Council, said an unnamed official from the company, 3F Turizm.
A firm spokeswoman, contacted by AFP, confirmed that the project was put on hold until a yet unclear date, but denied any UN snags.
She said the postponement was due to the fact that Iraq and the UN could not agree on the extension of the oil-for-food deal and due to a request for a postponement by private companies sponsoring the project. She decline to give further details.
The firm had previously said it did not expect any objections by the UN for the initiative, planning to connect Istanbul and Baghdad.
The planes were expected to carry mostly Turkish businesspeople seeking to revitalize commercial ties with Iraq under a recent drive by Ankara to boost trade with its embargo-hit neighbor.
Turkey, a NATO ally that hosts US and British jets patrolling Iraq's northern no-fly zone, is in favor of easing the 11-year-long UN embargo.
In the past several months, Turkish officials have held a series of talks with their Iraqi counterparts to revitalize trade, and several Turkish planes have flown to Baghdad on humanitarian missions.
Ankara says the planned "smart sanctions" against Baghdad should not hurt Iraq's neighbors who have already suffered heavy losses under the existing sanctions regime. Turkey puts its losses at about $35 billion. ― (AFP, Ankara)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)