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R: Oil for Food - What's going on?

                Iraq Rejects Extension of Aid Plan

                By Waiel Faleh
                Associated Press Writer
                Saturday, Nov. 20, 1999+ADs- 1:03 p.m. EST

                BAGHDAD, Iraq +AKEAuQChALk- Iraq rejected a two-week extension of
                humanitarian aid Saturday as being too brief to be of any
help, but
                did not indicate if it would stop selling oil to raise money
for food
                +AKEAuQ- the keystone of the program.

                Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf said the
                approved by the U.N. Security Council on Friday, is
                from a +ACI-practical point of view as it is impossible to do
                in two weeks.

                The official Iraqi News Agency, which reported al-Sahhaf's
                statement, did not say if that meant Iraq would stop
exporting oil.
                The aid program allows Iraq to sell oil and use the revenue
to buy
                food, medicine and other humanitarian goods.

                The two-week extension was approved as a stopgap to give
                Council members time to resolve a deadlock on a wider,
                comprehensive policy on Iraq. Baghdad has called for the
lifting of
                U.N. economic sanctions imposed in 1990 following its
invasion of

                The oil-for-food program was started in December 1996,
                Iraq to circumvent the sanctions to sell +ACQ-2 billion worth of
oil over
                the next six months. Since then, the program has been
                repeatedly for six-month periods and the value of the oil
sales was
                raised to +ACQ-5.2 billion. The latest six-month phase ended

                The United States proposed another six-month extension but
                put forth major amendments to expand the program.

                To avoid a confrontation, the Security Council decided to
                the oil-for-food program by two weeks.

                +ACI-This impractical resolution aims at blackmailing others so
                stress that Iraq, in light of these facts, cannot deal with
                resolution,+ACI- al-Sahhaf, the foreign minister, was quoted as

                He accused the United States and Britain of holding up 621
                contracts for various items, ranging from food to spare
                parts, worth +ACQ-807.7 million during the latest phase. +ACI-Iraq
has not
                received many of the items included in the distribution
plan,+ACI- he

                The United States says it holds up the contracts because of
                inadequate information, inability to check on the use of
                that can have military use, and because of corrupt practices
by some

                Iraq has regularly expressed its dissatisfaction with the
                oil-for-food program, saying it perpetuates the economic
                and does little to ease the hardships of common Iraqis.

                The sanctions cannot be lifted until the Security Council
                that Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction. But that
                certification became a remote possibility after Iraq halted
                weapons inspections last December, prompting U.S. and
                military strikes.

                          (C) Copyright 1999 The Associated Press

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