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Did this trip in February 1999 happen?

05 November 1998 IMF to send mission to 
sanctions-hit Iraq 
For the first time in almost 20 years, the two are talking again 
LONDON - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) planned to send a mission to Iraq 
early next year to pave the way for normal ties with sanctions-hit Baghdad, a top IMF 
official said in remarks published yesterday. 
Paul Chabrier, the IMF's Middle East director, said he would head the delegation to the 
Iraqi capital next February in response to an official invitation. 
He said Iraqi officials told him they were seeking IMF support in the rebuilding of their 
administrative system, to set up a statistical base, help with budget planning and create a 
foreign exchange market. The last consultations the Washington-based IMF had with 
Iraq were at the start of the 1980s, he said. 
Iraq is reeling under strict economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations (UN) 
since its invasion of neighbouring Kuwait in 1990. 
"We were invited to resume relations with Iraq and the invitation came from officials. I do 
not know what we will find in Baghdad  Despite the existence of tension and friction 
between Iraq and the UN, I think we are moving towards a form of normalisation (of 
ties) with Baghdad," he said. 
Iraq is one of the IMF's original members, joining in December 1945. Its ties with the 
fund have frayed, though, and Baghdad owed the lending agency almost $40m on April 
30 1997. 
Earlier this year, some US lawmakers sought to force Baghdad out of the IMF before 
approving US funding to the agency. 
Chabrier said he had been willing to meet an earlier invitation to visit Iraq last February, 
but the mission was postponed after deterioration of relations with the UN over arms 
Washington threatened to launch military strikes against Iraq if it continued to deny UN 
weapons inspectors access to all sites in the country, but the crisis was averted by a deal 
sealed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Baghdad. 
Chabrier's remarks came as a new crisis brewed after Iraq decided last week to suspend 
co-operation with the inspectors searching for banned weapons. Baghdad newspapers 
said yesterday Iraq would not be cowed. 
Chabrier said the IMF was interested also in upgrading its contacts with another 
sanctions-hit Middle Eastern nation, Libya, and would be keeping a keen eye on Iran to 
see if the government of reformist President Mohammad Khatami will embrace economic 
policies that the fund could approve of. 
An IMF mission would leave soon for Libya, Chabrier said. He said the country did not 
need loans, but could benefit from IMF help in building a statistical base to adopt sound 
economic policies. 
"I see encouraging signs for a substantial improvement in Libya's foreseen economic 
future," he said. 
Chabrier said Tehran's good relations with the IMF had increased Iran's ability to set up 
statistical bases, but the country's economic health was far from ideal. 
"Iran's situation is more complicated due to the unsuitable external atmosphere after the 
deterioration of crude oil prices and the emergence of pressure on the balance of 
payments," he said. 
He said although Iran's external debts were not large compared with the size of its 
economy, they were a burden because of their short-term nature. - Reuter.

Mark Parkinson

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