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Associated Press and Reuters: 25 to 27 September


France Blames US for Iraq Situation 

Associated Press Writer 

NEW YORK (AP) - France is blaming the United States
and Britain for the collapse of the U.N. weapons
inspections program in Iraq but says it still wants to
join the two nations in an effort to restore it. 

If Britain, France and the United States - the three
Western members of the Security Council - can reach a
consensus, Russia and China will join along, French
Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said Friday. 

Vedrine's comments indicated France was trying to
distance itself from Russia and China, with whom
France is often linked on Iraqi matters, and place
itself more as a middle-ground negotiator as the
council tries to end a nearly yearlong stalemate over
weapons inspections. 

U.N. arms inspections ground to a halt in mid-December
when the United States and Britain launched airstrikes
to protest what they said was Baghdad's failure to
cooperate with inspectors of the U.N. Special

Iraq has refused to allow UNSCOM inspectors back, and
has demanded that the council immediately lift
sanctions imposed after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait -
a position repeated Friday by Foreign Minister
Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf in his speech to the General

Russia, China and France have tabled a draft
resolution that would suspend all sanctions if Iraq
cooperates with a new commission to monitor its banned
weapons programs. 

Britain and the Netherlands have in turn introduced a
resolution, supported by the United States, which
would suspend only the oil embargo on Iraq if Baghdad
answers key questions about its weapons programs. 

Vedrine said the five permanent members of the council
have come closer on the issue of the financial
controls that would be implemented to ensure that
proceeds from oil sales didn't fund new arms

But there were still differences over what would
trigger the sanctions suspension, he said. 

Vedrine was highly critical of the U.S. position on
sanctions - saying France was consistently surprised
``that the United States is so insensitive to the
human catastrophe under way in Iraq. 

``Iraq is not just made up of Saddam Hussein
himself,'' he said. ``There are men, women and
children - a whole society which is being destroyed.''

Vedrine also lashed out at what he considered the root
of the current crisis - the December airstrikes. 

``We were not the ones to put an end to and destroy
the previous control mechanism,'' he said. ``We did
not take any initiatives or unilateral measures.'' 

In his speech to the assembly, al-Sahaf accused the
United States of using the United Nations for its own
political goals. 

``The United States deliberately works for maintaining
the embargo and doubling the suffering of the people
of Iraq, despite the disappearance of all the reasons
that led to the imposition of the embargo,'' he

Deputy U.S. Ambassador Peter Burleigh rejected the
accusation, telling the assembly at the end of the
meeting that the United States was committed to
helping the Iraqis through the U.N. humanitarian

He urged they look at the ``wider problem of Saddam
Hussein cynically creating a humanitarian crisis for
political gain.'' 
Monday September 27 1:19 PM ET 
Western Military Aircraft Bomb Northern Iraq
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - An Iraqi military spokesman said
Western planes bombed a civilian target in northern
Iraq Monday, but the U.S. European Command said the
aircraft had attacked anti-aircraft batteries after
being fired on. 
The Iraqi spokesman, quoted by the official Iraqi News
Agency, said U.S. and British aircraft flew 22 sorties
over northern Iraq at 12:15 p.m. local time, and had
bombed a civilian target. He did not mention any
The United States' European Command, based in Germany,
said in a statement its planes had bombed
anti-aircraft batteries north of the city of Mosul in
self-defense after being fired on. All allied aircraft
returned safely, it said, and damage to the Iraqi
sites was being assessed. 
In the south of Iraq, the Baghdad spokesman said,
Iraqi units fired surface-to-air missiles and
anti-aircraft guns at ''enemy crows'' and forced them
to retreat to bases in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. 
U.S. and British planes patrol no-fly zones over
Iraq's north and south. The exclusion zones were
imposed by the West after the 1991 Gulf War over
Kuwait to protect opponents of President Saddam
The raid was the latest in a series of clashes -- the
last was Saturday -- involving American and British
military aircraft and Iraqi air defenses. The clashes
began after Baghdad said in December that it would not
recognize the no-fly zones. 
Monday September 27, 4:51 pm Eastern Time 
FOCUS-Oil hits fresh 32-month highs on OPEC, Iraq
LONDON, Sept 27 (Reuters) - World oil markets held
firm on Monday after powering to fresh 32-month highs
on technicals and news that Iraq would surpass its
$5.26 billion oil sales limit in early October. 
London Brent futures for November closed 17 cents
higher on the day at $24.07 a barrel after steaming
ahead to a high of $24.18 after the release of U.N.
figures showing that on Friday, Iraqi oil exports were
$695 million short of hitting their six-month limit. 
Using the four-week averages of price and exports,
Iraq will exceed the sales target allowed by the UN by
October 8. 
Iraqi oil exports under the current six-month phase of
the ``oil-for-food'' programme, which ends November
20, reached 2.63 million barrels per day in the week
to September 24. 
The upward move in London, which was not mirrored in
New York, was helped by a rally late last week when
OPEC voted to leave export restrictions in place. 
Analysts said OPEC's decision to maintain 4.3 million
barrels a day of supply curbs until April looked
likely to push prices higher again as inventories were
depleted in coming weeks. 
``The outcome of the meeting almost assures the world
of a serious stockdraw over the next 90 days,'' said
independent U.S. oil consultant Philip Verleger in a
note to clients. 
Dealers on Monday said they remained wary of political
pressure in the United States to release oil from the
national strategic petroleum reserve. 
The U.S. Department of Energy said on Friday there was
no need to consider a sale from the reserve because
commercial heating oil stocks were sufficient. 
A U.S. senator, Charles Schumer of New York, had
called for a release of oil to counter OPEC export
curbs calling them nothing less than ``economic
``Ultimately any sale from the reserve will be
politically motivated and for that reason we would not
rule out pressure for such a sale increasing over the
coming months,'' said Lawrence Eagles of oil brokers
The risk of a big price reversal led by speculative
hedge funds was reduced on Friday when U.S. statistics
showed a decline from the record purchase positions
held by speculators. 
The Commodities and Futures Trading Commission said
speculators' net long positions in U.S. light crude
futures had fallen nine percent to 71,500 contracts in
the two weeks to September 21. 
 Prices in dollars per barrel:
                            Sept 27     Sept 24
                            (close)     (close)
    IPE Nov Brent           24.07        23.91
    NYMEX Nov light crude   24.61        24.80


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