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The following articles appear in today's Washington Post and New York Times. Letters to the Post's editor can be e-mailed at the Post's web-site (the web-site doesn't appear to list the e-mail address). Letters to the NYT's editor should be mailed to email@example.com. %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% U.N. Chief Extends Controversial Humanitarian Official's Term in Iraq By Colum Lynch Special to The Washington Post Wednesday, November 3, 1999; Page A28 UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 2 U.S. officials have accused the official, Hans von Sponeck, of siding with Iraq in a propaganda battle over who is to blame for the suffering of the Iraqi people: the West, for imposing harsh economic sanctions, or Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, for failing to comply with the terms for lifting those sanctions. State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said von Sponeck, a career U.N. official from Germany, has exceeded his authority by publicly criticizing the Security Council's sanctions policy and by investigating civilian casualties from U.S.-British bombing raids in Iraq's "no fly" zones. Rubin also charged that von Sponeck allowed the Iraqi government to fill warehouses with food and medicine that should have been distributed to the Iraqi people under the terms of the U.N.'s "oil for food" program, which allows Iraq to sell $5.2 billion of oil every six months to meet humanitarian needs. "We do not have confidence in his leadership of this effort," Rubin said. "Mr. von Sponeck has undermined the role of the humanitarian coordinator in Iraq." Fred Eckhard, Annan's chief spokesman, said the secretary-general believes that anyone serving in such a sensitive job inevitably will offend the United States, Britain or other countries. Eckhard said von Sponeck's predecessor, Denis J. Halliday of Ireland, ran afoul of the United States and his eventual successor probably will, too. "It kind of comes with the territory," Eckhard said. Annan nevertheless has asked von Sponeck to meet with U.S. and British officials to "clear up any misunderstanding that might have arisen," Eckhard said, adding that the U.N. chief "wants von Sponeck to continue in this job." Rubin's unusually sharp public criticism of von Sponeck comes as the United States and Britain continue to wrestle with Russia, France and other countries that favor lifting the economic sanctions if U.N. weapons inspectors are allowed to return to Iraq. Last week, Washington and London rejected a recommendation by the secretary general to allow Iraq to spend an additional $300 million on repairs to oil production facilities. And on Monday, Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering pledged U.S. support for Iraqi opposition leaders seeking to topple Saddam Hussein. Annan, meanwhile, has criticized the United States and Britain for blocking Iraqi requests to import more than $700 million in various goods under the oil-for-food program. Washington is responsible for holding up the delivery of more than 580 items, while Britain is holding up 82 items. ) Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% New York Times November 3, 1999 Despite U.S. Protests, U.N. Relief Aide in Baghdad Is to Stay On By CHRISTOPHER S. WREN UNITED NATIONS -- Secretary General Kofi Annan has asked the United Nations relief coordinator for Iraq to stay for another year, despite pressure from the United States and Britain to dismiss him. The United States and Britain have said the official, Hans von Sponeck of Germany, has exceeded his role in his criticism of the economic sanctions against Baghdad. Fred Eckhard, the United Nations spokesman, recalled that there were similar complaints about Sponeck's predecessor, Denis Halliday, adding, "It kind of comes with the territory of his job." Halliday, an Irishman, resigned last year to protest what he said was the damage inflicted on ordinary Iraqis by the sanctions, which he said were incompatible with the United Nations Charter. Halliday contended that 6,000 Iraqi children were dying every month because of sanctions imposed on Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Sponeck joined the United Nations Development Program in 1968. He worked in Ghana, Turkey, Botswana, Pakistan and India before becoming director of European affairs in the program's office in Geneva. He was appointed the United Nations relief coordinator in Iraq in October 1998. The post of coordinator was established in October 1997 to administer programs that permit Iraq, despite the sanctions, to sell $5 billion worth of oil every six months to buy food, medicine and other necessities. The United States and its allies maintain that the sanctions, imposed by the Security Council, cannot be lifted until Iraq shows that it has destroyed its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the means of making new ones. The United States has accused President Saddam Hussein of manipulating the suffering of Iraqis to get sanctions lifted. It is rare for the United States to criticize a United Nations official by name. But diplomats said the chief American delegate to the United Nations, Richard C. Holbrooke, and the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Thomas R. Pickering, have expressed concern to Annan about Sponeck. They are reported to have questioned his objectivity, as well as his ability to deliver food and medicine to the intended Iraqi recipients. Sponeck is in Baghdad and could not be reached. James P. Rubin, the State Department spokesman, said Tuesday that the United States had no confidence in Sponeck's ability to administer the oil-for-food program objectively. Rubin said Sponeck allowed the Iraqi Government to stockpile large quantities of supplies urgently needed by the Iraqi people and refused to confront the authorities about distributing the goods. Briefing reporters at the United Nations last Tuesday, Sponeck said it was important to take concerns about human welfare out of the mainstream of political discussion. "One should try to de-link the humanitarian discussion from the disarmament discussion," he said. But Rubin said Sponeck, as United Nations coordinator of the oil-for-food program, "has no business advocating changes to a sanctions regime that the Security Council has imposed and reaffirmed." Eckhard responded that the relief coordinator in Iraq must be concerned about the people he is there to serve. "The fact that the humanitarian issue in Iraq becomes a political football, I think, is obvious to anyone," Eckhard said. "So it becomes a very fine line for any humanitarian coordinator to walk." $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ -- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email firstname.lastname@example.org, NOT the whole list. Please do not send emails with attached files to the list *** Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html ***