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6 month Oil for Food renewal

Friday December 10 12:57 PM ET 

U.N. Extends Iraq Oil-Food Program

By NICOLE WINFIELD Associated Press Writer

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The Security Council decided today to extend the
U.N. humanitarian program in Iraq for six additional months while members
pushed toward a vote on a broader resolution to return U.N. weapons
inspectors to Iraq after a yearlong absence.

All 15 members of the council voted in favor of the 180-day extension to
the U.N. oil-for-food program, which allows Iraq to sell $5.2 billion in
oil over six months to buy humanitarian goods for its people.

Today's vote came in sharp contrast to one last week, when the United
States only narrowly managed to get a weeklong extension to the program.

Baghdad halted oil exports on Nov. 22 after the council approved a
two-week extension to the program, but has since said it would resume
pumping if the council passed the six-month continuation. Oil industry
experts say exports could resume by Dec. 15 or 16.

Ahead of today's vote, Britain on Thursday formally introduced a
comprehensive resolution that would not only improve the oil-for-food
program but would return weapons inspectors to Iraq. The resolution would
suspend sanctions if Baghdad cooperates fully with inspectors and shows
progress toward answering questions about its programs to build weapons of
mass destruction.

Arms experts left Iraq last December ahead of airstrikes launched by the
United States and Britain for what the two countries said was Iraq's
failure to cooperate with inspectors.

Iraq has barred the inspectors from returning until the Security Council
lifts the economic sanctions it imposed after Baghdad's 1990 invasion of

British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock, the current council president,
wouldn't say whether he would schedule a vote on the comprehensive draft
Saturday, as the United States wants, or give Russia and China more time.

``The point is that we are now on the run to a final vote,'' Greenstock
said Thursday night.

Russia and China want more time and negotiations to alter elements of the
draft resolution - and neither has indicated how it would vote if the
United States and Britain were to push for a vote Saturday.

Primarily, Iraq's main allies differ with most of the rest of the council
on the criteria for what would trigger the suspension of sanctions. They
want the suspension to occur soon after inspectors arrive, and be
triggered by a less-rigorous interpretation of ``full cooperation'' than
demanded by the United States and Britain, Western diplomats said

A Russian veto would doom the draft resolution, which has been under
negotiation for almost the entire year that inspectors have been out of

A Russian abstention on the vote, which could well be coupled with
abstentions from China and France, would allow the resolution to pass, but
would signal to Iraq that the demands in it didn't have the united support
of the full council.

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