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Iraqi response to UK/US proposal

DUBAI (AFP) -- Iraq said Thursday it remained wary of British calls for a
suspension of UN sanctions although it recognized the proposals
represented a shift in Britain's stance.

Commerce Minister Mohammad Mahdi Saleh told the Arabic newspaper Al Hayat
that Baghdad would study the proposals, which he said represented a
"certain development in Britain's position" towards Iraq.

But he said Iraq remained "wary" because of its previous experiences with
Britain, which as a permanent member of the UN Security Council has always
advocated a tough line against Iraq.

Britain called for the suspension of some economic sanctions but with
severe conditions in a proposal contained in a draft resolution circulated
during a meeting Monday of the five permanent Security Council members.

The resolution proposes "to suspend, for a period of 120 days, renewable
by the council, the remaining prohibitions against the import of
commodities and products originating in Iraq."

But the sanctions in force since Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait only could
be suspended if Baghdad proved it no longer possesses weapons of mass
destruction, it said.

The resolution also calls for "the maintenance of effective financial
controls necessary to ensure that Iraq does not acquire prohibited

The US ambassador to the United Nations said Wednesday that Washington
could support the British proposal as it answered most US concerns about
the "real disarmament" of Iraq, and tight financial controls on its

"We have some problems with small parts of it but, by and large, it's
something that the US can support," Peter Burleigh said.

Iraq Action Coalition
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