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UN, Iraq Discuss Oil-for-Food Plan By Nicole Winfield Associated Press Writer Saturday, August 22, 1998; 12:42 a.m. EDT UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The United Nations and Iraq have begun discussing cuts in Baghdad's plan to distribute food and medicine to needy Iraqis because revenues from oil sales are coming up less than expected, U.N. officials said Friday. Next week, Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected to deliver his midterm update on the so-called oil-for-food program, which allows Iraq to circumvent U.N. sanctions and sell its oil to buy humanitarian goods for its 22 million people. The report notes that oil-for-food revenues over the last three months will fall short of expectations and that Baghdad must begin work on prioritizing aid requests, said a U.N. source familiar with the data of the report. The United Nations had expected the shortfall because of current low oil prices and known production limits of Iraq's oil infrastructure. In a letter to the U.N. chief made public Friday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Said al-Sahaf blamed the United States and Britain for the shortfall in revenues, saying the two countries were delaying approval of contracts. The delays will force Iraq to reduce the quantities of exports already agreed to in some oil contracts, al-Sahaf wrote. ``It will also have an adverse impact on the quantities of humanitarian goods and supplies for which contracts have already been concluded,'' he said. While it's up to Baghdad to decide where and how deeply to cut the aid plan, diplomats said they will favor keeping food, medical supplies, and spare parts for Iraq's oil sector. The council recently authorized the delivery of $300 million in spare pipeline parts to help Iraq repair its oil infrastructure and boost oil revenues. The oil-for-food program was established in 1996 to help provide for Iraqis suffering under U.N. sanctions imposed after Baghdad invaded Kuwait in 1990. Concerned that Iraqis were still suffering despite the program, the Security Council in February raised the maximum amount of oil Iraq can sell over six months from $2 billion to $5.2 billion. Nevertheless, Iraq is on course to raise only $3 billion through oil sales in the six months beginning May 30, al-Sahaf wrote. Since 34 cents of every oil-for-food dollar go for Gulf War reparations and administrative costs, only $2 billion is expected to be available for humanitarian aid. Baghdad has characterized oil-for-food as a tool to justify what it considers unjust sanctions imposed in 1990 after Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. ) Copyright 1998 The Associated Press -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html