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Iraq news

*       British, Dutch to Offer Resolutions for Iraq (LA Times)
*       Iraqi authorities criticize UN Security Council (Arabic News)
*       Iraqi opposition delegation prepares for meeting with Albright,
Berger (Arabic News)
*       Egypt Turns Down Iraq Opposition (Associated Press)
*       Illicit Turkish diesel trade with Iraq on the rise (Reuters)
*       Russia Wants Iraq Sanctions Ended (Associated Press)
*       Europeans May Ease Iraq Sanctions (Associated Press)

British, Dutch to Offer Resolution on U.N. Inspections, Foreign Oil
Investments in Iraq 
By JANET WILSON, Times Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times
UNITED NATIONS--Britain and the Netherlands plan to introduce a Security
Council resolution that could allow foreign oil companies to invest in
Iraq if President Saddam Hussein cooperates with U.N. weapons
inspectors, and if a team of experts to be assembled by
Secretary-General Kofi Annan recommends it. "We want to move full-steam
ahead on humanitarian provisions to the people of Iraq," a British
diplomat at the U.N. said Tuesday. "We are not in the business of
relaxing Saddam's compliance with Security Council resolutions. This
allows for investment in the Iraqi oil industry only after Iraq has
demonstrated compliance in certain areas." 

Under the plan, Hussein would have to allow weapons inspectors full
access for 120 days under a newly formed U.N. Commission on Inspection
and Monitoring. At the same time, Annan would appoint a panel of experts
to report on Iraq's humanitarian needs and how the nation could increase
its oil production to buy food, medicine and other necessities for
civilians. The panel could recommend increasing the number of oil export
outlets allowed under the oil-for-food program. The program, which will
expire Monday but has been routinely extended in the past, allows Iraq
to sell $5.25 billion worth of oil every six months in order to buy
emergency goods for ordinary Iraqis suffering under sanctions imposed
since Baghdad's troops invaded Kuwait in 1990. 

A spokesman for the secretary-general said he himself had heard nothing
about the proposal. Annan is traveling overseas, and a routine report
from his office on the oil-for-food program is expected to be released
this week.

Both France and China could have potentially lucrative oil contracts
with Iraq if sanctions are lifted. They have been backing a competing
Russian resolution that would lift sanctions as demands for information
about humanitarian concerns or weapons are met. The British and Dutch
resolution, which is expected to be introduced Friday, would only
declare the "intention to consider" lifting sanctions if Hussein met

Iraqi authorities criticize UN Security Council
Arabic News, Iraq, Politics, 5/19/99

The Iraqi authorities accused the UN Security Council of confiscating
Iraqi funds specified for buying humanitarian supplies, and demanded the
halt of any sectors paying compensation for the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait
in 1990 from the revenues of petroleum payments according to the
agreement ratified with the United Nations. An official source in the
Iraqi Foreign Ministry said today that issuing the Security Council to
keep 30% of the funds of Iraqi petroleum payments as compensation for
the war forms a great obstruction toward fulfilling the basic needs of
Iraq for food and medicine. The source added that hundreds of millions
of dollars that were taken from Iraqi funds since the beginning of the
oil-for-food program in 1997 could have contributed to carrying out this
program correctly. Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf
complained in his message to AL's secretary general that the sums
estimated for the war compensation were not reached due to the lessened
ability of Iraq to export petroleum and low petroleum prices.

Iraqi opposition delegation prepares for meeting with Albright, Berger
Arabic News, Iraq, Politics, 5/19/99

A leader of the Iraqi opposition said on Tuesday that a delegation
representing the Iraqi opposition will head for Washington next Monday
in order to ask for US military protection in the framework of efforts
to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Leader of the "Iraqi National
Accord Movement," Eyad Allawi, said the provisional presidency of the
executive council of the "national congress" is planning for an armed
"uprising" that will be conducive to toppling Saddam Hussein. Allawi did
not explain when the operation would start, but he indicated that such
an "uprising" will follow a meeting of the opposition organizations to
be held in July in the Kurdistan area of Iraq. He added that the
rebellion will start from the region which falls under the Kurds in
Kurdistan. Allawi told the AP in a telephone call from London, "We will
tell the Americans that Iraqi Kurdistan should be converted into a
secure haven for the opposition Iraqi organizations in confrontation of
Saddam's attacks."

He added that the "protection request" will be submitted to US Secretary
of State Madeleine Albright and the advisor of the US President for
national security, Sandy Berger, the two US officials with whom the
Iraqi opposition will meet in Washington. He stated that the delegation
will ask the US administration to ensure "full protection" for a plenary
meeting the opposition intends to convene in the Kurdish area.

Last year, the US congress ratified "the law for liberating Iraq,"
according to which Washington was authorized to provide weapons to
opposition organizations at a value of US $97 million. Allawi said that
opposition members who are active inside Iraq have recently escalated
their attacks against the Iraqi government and members of the ruling
Baath Party. On Saturday, Baghdad admitted that violations took place in
Basra two months ago and accused the revolutionary guards in Iran of
being involved in it.

Egypt Turns Down Iraq Opposition 
By Salah Nasrawi, Associated Press Writer, Wednesday, May 19, 1999;
12:57 p.m. EDT

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- Egypt has turned down a request by Saddam Hussein's
opponents to host a key strategy session in Cairo, Arab diplomats said
Wednesday. The diplomats said a delegation from the newly formed
leadership of the Iraqi National Congress visited Cairo last week to
discuss the meeting with Egyptian officials. Egypt refused to allow them
to hold a session to set up an Iraqi parliament in exile and agree on a
military and political strategy to oust Saddam. The dissidents shifted
the meeting, set for July, to a northern Iraqi area controlled by
Kurdish dissidents. However, some may consider it risky to meet in Iraq.

Egypt has always refused to support attempts to get rid of Saddam,
saying it does not want to interfere in another country's internal
affairs. President Hosni Mubarak has also described attempts to help
Iraqi opposition groups as futile. Egypt's relations with Iraq improved
recently after Baghdad increased its trade with Cairo under the
U.N.-sponsored oil-for-food deal. Still, the meeting with Iraqi National
Congress officials could signal that Egypt supports U.S. efforts to work
with Iraqi opposition groups seeking to overthrow Saddam. 

The diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said though Egypt
did not want to be the site of a high-profile gathering, it promised to
continue its contacts with the Iraqi groups. Representatives of the two
Kurdish parties that control northern Iraq have offices in Cairo, and a
small group of Iraqi dissidents also lives in the Egyptian capital. In
April, leaders of several Iraqi opposition groups agreed to set up a
united leadership to supervise and execute the anti-Saddam campaign. 

Last year, the U.S. Congress agreed to provide $97 million to the
opposition groups to help them implement the plan. President Clinton has
proclaimed that Saddam's ouster is a major U.S. goal. Recent reports in
the Arab press suggested that the Clinton administration has asked some
of Iraq's Arab neighbors to extend help to Saddam's opponents. 

Illicit Turkish diesel trade with Iraq on the rise
May 18, 1999, Web posted at: 6:11 PM EDT (2211 GMT) 

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) -- A lucrative trade in illegal diesel
between Turkey and neighboring northern Iraq has soared after Baghdad
increased its fuel supplies to the Kurdish-held north, Turkish customs
officials said on Tuesday. They said the number of lorries making the
daily trip across Turkey's Iraq border to purchase the fuel from a
Kurd-controlled enclave there had doubled to around 1,000 from 500. The
diesel inflow to Turkey rises and falls with political developments in
Iraq. In December, Baghdad halted supplies to the north after being
bombed by U.S. and British planes over its refusal to comply with U.N.
arms inspections.  When the trade resumed at the end of the year the
volume of traffic fell to around 250 lorries a day, creeping up to 500
lorries a day in recent weeks.

Each truck can carry more than four tons of diesel. The fuel is produced
in oilfields near the Iraqi city of Kirkuk and transported to northern
Iraq, which is controlled by two rival Iraqi Kurdish factions. Although
the cross-border trade is technically a violation of U.N. sanctions on
Iraq, western powers turn a blind eye to it, effectively aiding ally
Turkey which has been hard hit by the sanctions on a former trading

Multinational oil companies operating in Turkey lobby for curbs on the
illicit trade, which totalled some 2.5 million tons last year but Ankara
is reluctant to limit the inflow. It sees the fuel as an important
source of income for many in the poverty-stricken, mainly Kurdish
southeast where Turkish troops have been fighting a Kurdish rebel group
for 14 years. Earlier this year, the Turkish government set an annual
limit of 1.2 million tons for illicit diesel entering the country, but
Prime Minister-designate Bulent Ecevit later pledged during his election
campaign to raise the level. 

Russia Wants Iraq Sanctions Ended 
By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press Writer, Wednesday, May 19, 1999;
10:51 p.m. EDT

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Russia, China and France suggested Wednesday that
the Security Council suspend sanctions on Iraq once a new arms
monitoring system is in place, part of a new round of negotiations on
drafting a new U.N. policy for Baghdad. The United States immediately
rejected the proposal and said it would instead consider an alternative
draft resolution submitted Tuesday by Britain and the Netherlands which
calls for foreign investment in Iraq's oil sector after U.N. arms
inspections resume. ``We're looking favorably at that draft,'' Deputy
U.S. Ambassador Peter Burleigh said as he headed into a meeting of the
permanent members of the council to hear Russia detail its proposal. 

Russia had initially suggested lifting sanctions on Iraq entirely,
arguing that the removal of the oil embargo was the only way to persuade
Iraq to allow the United Nations to resume overseeing the destruction of
its weapons of mass destruction. China and France have signed on to the
new Russian draft, which says sanctions that have crippled the Iraqi
economy for nearly nine years would be suspended for 100 days after
Secretary-General Kofi Annan reports that a system of monitoring Iraq's
banned weapons programs is operational. 

The suspension would roll over every 100 days unless Annan reports that
the monitoring regime isn't working effectively. Iraq's foreign assets
would remain frozen. On the weapons front, the Russian draft says that
Iraq has been disarmed to the extent that a system of monitoring can be
established to prevent Iraq from rebuilding its banned weapons programs.
``We don't accept it. We reject it,'' Burleigh said, stressing that the
United States doesn't agree that Iraq is fully disarmed. 

The British-Dutch draft resolution calls for a similar system of
monitoring, but ties it more closely to the inspection system that was
established in 1991 at the end of the Gulf War. If Iraq submits to the
new monitoring, the draft calls for the Security Council to consider
approving new ways to increase Baghdad's oil exports, including foreign
investment, so that more money can be funnelled into the U.N.
oil-for-food program. The humanitarian program allows Iraq to sell $5.26
billion in oil over six months provided the money be used to buy food
and medicine for Iraqis. 

Europeans May Ease Iraq Sanctions 
By Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press Writer, Wednesday, May 19, 1999;
1:40 a.m. EDT

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The United States is willing to consider a
proposal for a new U.N. relationship with Iraq that would allow foreign
companies to invest in Iraq's oil industry if Baghdad cooperates with
U.N. arms inspectors, a U.S. official says. The proposed British-Dutch
resolution circulated Tuesday says Iraq must let U.N. inspectors resume
monitoring Iraq's weapons programs and provide ``unconditional and
unrestricted access'' to all facilities and records for four months
before any such investments would be considered. 

Before the United States gives its approval, it wants to study the exact
conditions that Baghdad would have to meet for the U.N. Security Council
to consider authorizing any foreign investment, the U.S. official said.
``In other words, it's not ruled out,'' the official told The Associated
Press, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The U.S. willingness to consider foreign investment in what oil industry
experts say could be among the most lucrative undeveloped oil fields in
the world represents a significant shift in Washington's position. Only
a month ago, deputy U.S. Ambassador Peter Burleigh rejected the
recommendation of a U.N. expert panel to allow foreign investment in
Iraq's struggling oil sector to help Baghdad buy food and medicine for
ordinary Iraqis. He argued that the investments would have the
unintended effect of lifting some sanctions imposed after Baghdad's 1990
invasion of Kuwait. 

U.S. officials have indicated, however, that they're unlikely to back a
major overhaul of Iraq's oil sector -- but would support limited foreign
investment that would increase revenue for the U.N. oil-for-food
program. The program allows Iraq to sell $5.2 billion worth of oil to
buy humanitarian goods, but Baghdad has been unable to meet the limit
because of low oil prices and production problems. Iraq has rejected
foreign investment in the oil sector, saying it would reduce the country
to ``an entity under the trusteeship of the United Nations.'' 

The Security Council established three panels in February to chart a new
relationship with Iraq, help ordinary Iraqis cope with the effects of
sanctions, and restart arms inspections that were halted by U.S. and
British airstrikes in mid-December. Iraq also rejected recommendations
of the panels -- on disarmament, humanitarian problems and Kuwait
related-issues -- because they did not meet Baghdad's key demand that
the oil embargo be lifted. And Baghdad is likely to reject the
British-Dutch draft for the same reason. 

A rival Russian proposal, backed by China and France, does call for
economic sanctions to be lifted once a system to monitor Iraq's weapons
programs is in place, but it is strongly opposed by Washington.
Diplomats said Russia is expected to discuss a revised draft today with
the four other permanent Security Council members -- the United States,
Britain, China and France. U.N. arms inspectors must verify the
elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction before the council can
move to lift sanctions. 

Pope Hopes to Make Trip to Iraq 

Thursday, May 20, 1999; 9:52 a.m. EDT

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope John Paul II hopes to make his long-desired
trip to Iraq later this year, the Vatican said Thursday. Along with a
pilgrimage to the biblical birthplace of Abraham, such a trip would
likely include a politically charged meeting with Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein. John Paul long has spoken out against international sanctions
and airstrikes on Iraq, citing the suffering of ordinary Iraqis. A
meeting with the pope could be seen as a boost for the Iraqi leader,
unwavering in his defiance of U.S.-led allies and their terms for ending
the airstrikes and embargo. 

Iraqi dissidents have urged John Paul against making the trip, saying it
would gain undeserved international sympathy for a regime guilty of
persistent human rights violations. John Paul and the Vatican have long
expressed hope for a papal millennium tour of biblical sites, including
the ruins of Ur, the traditional home of the prophet Abraham in ancient
Mesopotamia, now Iraq. 

The trip has yet to be decided, no date or itinerary have been set and
the church has yet to make even the usual advance trip, said a Vatican
spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini. ``Right now, it's only a plan,''
Benedettini stressed. Typically, final confirmation of a trip comes from
the host country, two months before a visit. An Iraq trip would likely
be a separate one, not tagged onto a proposed Asian trip or any other,
Benedettini said. If the trip comes off, it would be expected that the
pope, as a head of state, would follow his normal practice of meeting
with Iraq's head of state, Saddam, Benedettini said. 

John Paul's past trips have brought him in contact with other leaders
isolated by the United States and other Western countries. The pope
visited Nigeria in March 1998, urging then-ruler Gen. Sani Abacha to
free political detainees. He made the same appeal to Fidel Castro in a
momentous trip to Cuba the same year, seen as helping to open up Cuba to
the world. Christians make up about 5 percent of Iraq's 22 million
people. An officially secular state, Iraq's people are overwhelmingly

The international community imposed economic sanctions on Iraq in the
wake of Saddam's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. It has resorted to airstrikes
to try to overcome Iraq's refusal to comply with terms set for lifting
of the sanctions, including proving to the United Nations' satisfaction
that it has dismantled its weapons of mass destruction. 

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