The United States insisted Wednesday, march 28, it had "broad support" for its plans to modify, but not eliminate, UN sanctions on Iraq despite the Arab League's demand for an end to the embargo on Baghdad.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher hinted that the demand, contained in the final communiqué of a two-day Arab League summit in Amman, did not represent the complete Arab position on sanctions.
"We see the total picture," Boucher told reporters, when asked how he could still claim Arab support for sanctions after the release of the communiqué. "We ask all the detailed questions, we work on them in some detail on these things, we understand perhaps a little more what they might mean in some of these public statements," he said.
Boucher maintained that Arab leaders, particularly in the moderate states of Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, had not wavered in their endorsement of US plans to ease commercial sanctions against Iraq while at the same time boosting military and technological restrictions.
On a tour of the region last month, Secretary of State Colin Powell said he had received support for those proposals and Boucher made clear on Wednesday that Washington had no reason to doubt those assurances.
"There is broad support for the principle of preventing the Iraqi regime from acquiring the ability to develop weapons of mass destruction and to rearm its military," he said. "There's obviously also concern that the Iraqi people not have to bear an unfair burden as we constrain the regime's attempts to develop those weapons." "That's what we find is consistent with the direction that we're going," he said.
Among the ideas Washington is floating are methods of enticing countries neighboring Iraq, where smuggling operations are rife, to cooperate more fully in enforcing key embargoes. New measures could include placing UN monitors just outside Iraqi borders to monitor trade and drawing a list of oil companies officially allowed by the United Nations to buy Iraqi crude. That would prevent the Iraqi regime from obtaining financial kickbacks, US officials said.
With tightened controls over Baghdad's trade and oil revenues, the plan would allow Iraq's neighbors to buy Iraqi oil at discounted prices with payments deposited into special accounts that Iraq could access to purchase imports from those same countries, stimulating lawful border trade. — (AFP, Washington)
by Matthew Lee
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)