Iraq for Russian support in easing sanctions

Ulhas Joglekar ulhasj at SPAMbom4.vsnl.net.in
Mon Dec 4 09:58:15 MST 2000


Thursday
30 November 2000

Iraq for Russian support in easing sanctions
MOSCOW:Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz on Wednesday consulted with
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on easing international sanctions
against his country.
Russia has championed Iraq's case before the United Nations, which imposed
the sanctions in 1990 to punish Iraq for its invasion of Kuwait. UN Security
Council resolutions require Iraq to eliminate its weapons of mass
destruction as a condition for sanctions to be lifted, but Iraq says it has
already met all the requirements.
Russia has also increased the pressure for lifting sanctions by announcing
its state airline Aeroflot had started negotiations with Baghdad over the
resumption of commercial flights. Russian businessmen have accompanied
cargoes of medications on several recent humanitarian flights from Moscow.
But Moscow has likewise encouraged Baghdad to do its part to meet the UN
demands. Earlier this month, Ivanov urged Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to
allow UN weapons inspectors to return to Iraq.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vasily Sredin, who serves as Russia's
special envoy to the Middle East, said on Tuesday that the talks would focus
on "resuming the interaction" between Iraq and the United Nations on
disarmament and ultimately the lifting of UN sanctions, the Interfax news
agency reported.
After arriving in Moscow on Tuesday, Aziz said that the dialogue with the
United Nations had yet to resume, and he protested what he called "illegal
military aggression" against his country.
US and British warplanes enforce no-fly zones over northern and southern
Iraq to protect groups opposed to the Baghdad government. Baghdad does not
recognise the zones and has been challenging the planes since late 1998.
Aziz praised Russia's position on Iraq as being clear-cut and firm, and said
ties between Moscow and Baghdad are "traditionally strong."
Russia tops the list of countries trading with Iraq, and Moscow has suffered
from the sanctions, which have hampered oil deals and Iraq's repayment of
billions of dollars in debt. Russia's overall losses amount to some $30
billion, the Foreign Ministry has said.
Aziz came to Moscow after visiting China and is due to stay until Thursday.
Interfax said Aziz could be received by Russian President Vladimir
Putin.(AP)
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