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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 U.N. 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 extension, approved by the U.N. Security Council on Friday, is meaningless from a +ACI-practical point of view as it is impossible to do anything+ACI- 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 Security 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 Kuwait. The oil-for-food program was started in December 1996, allowing Iraq to circumvent the sanctions to sell +ACQ-2 billion worth of oil over the next six months. Since then, the program has been renewed 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 Saturday. The United States proposed another six-month extension but Russia put forth major amendments to expand the program. To avoid a confrontation, the Security Council decided to extend the oil-for-food program by two weeks. +ACI-This impractical resolution aims at blackmailing others so we stress that Iraq, in light of these facts, cannot deal with this resolution,+ACI- al-Sahhaf, the foreign minister, was quoted as saying. He accused the United States and Britain of holding up 621 contracts for various items, ranging from food to spare machinery 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 said. The United States says it holds up the contracts because of inadequate information, inability to check on the use of equipment that can have military use, and because of corrupt practices by some companies. Iraq has regularly expressed its dissatisfaction with the oil-for-food program, saying it perpetuates the economic sanctions and does little to ease the hardships of common Iraqis. The sanctions cannot be lifted until the Security Council certifies that Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction. But that certification became a remote possibility after Iraq halted U.N. weapons inspections last December, prompting U.S. and British military strikes. (C) Copyright 1999 The Associated Press -- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, 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 ***