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Dear all, Let's utilize this event to increase the media coverage on the sanctions on Iraq. This story is making the news, so letters to the editor are critical -- now. Please check your local paper for this story, and write a short letter to the editor highlighting the plight of the Iraqi people. Two articles are enclosed regarding the French flight. -Rania Masri Paris-Baghdad Flight Takes Off In Defiance Of Sanctions (Associated Press, 22 September 2000) PARIS (AP) A plane carrying doctors, sportsmen and writers left Paris on Friday for Baghdad, the first such flight from France since the United Nations imposed sanctions on Iraq a decade ago for invading Kuwait. France-Info radio said the chartered plane left Charles de Gaulle airport at 8:35 a.m. for Baghdad, with about 60 passengers aboard. France informed the U.N. sanctions committee on Iraq on Thursday night that the humanitarian flight would be taking off. France refused a request to delay the flight for 12 hours so the issue could be studied. Russia sent a similar flight to Iraq last Sunday and received committee approval although its passenger list also included oil executives interested in making deals with Baghdad. The French flight included doctors, some sportsmen and writers, France-Info said. The increased flights, with their questionable passenger lists and last-minute notifications, are an indication of the growing challenge to sanctions. France was among a handful of U.N. Security Council members that stepped up a campaign against the sanctions on Thursday, with proposals to cut the compensation fund for victims of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and delay a $16 billion payout to Kuwait's oil company. Beginning Sept. 26, a committee of Security Council members is to decide whether to award $16 billion to Kuwait Petroleum Corp. from an account funded by proceeds from the U.N. oil-for-food program. The program allows Iraq to sell unlimited amounts of oil provided that it uses the profits to buy humanitarian goods for its people suffering under sanctions. Thirty percent of every dollar from oil sales, however, is diverted to an account to compensate victims of Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte told the Security Council that such an enormous payout to the Kuwaiti company Gă÷ at a time when oil companies are benefitting from record high oil prices Gă÷ was unconscionable given the suffering caused by the sanctions. He proposed that the council consider reducing the amount of money diverted into the compensation account from 30 cents on the dollar to 20 cents and have the proceeds be used to buy more humanitarian goods a proposal backed by Russia and Tunisia, Western diplomats said. France, traditionally, has had close ties to Iraq, but joined the multinational force fighting Iraq. --------------- French defiant on flight to Iraq BBC Friday, 22 September, 2000, 02:12 GMT 03:12 UK A diplomatic row has blown up at the United Nations over a direct flight between Paris and Baghdad. ^ [The flight is to] to fight against an intolerable situation which condemns an innocent population to a slow agony^ Flight organiser Father Jean-Marie Benjamin About 80 French doctors, artists and sports personalities are planning to leave for Baghdad at 0800 (0600 GMT) on Friday to provide medical assistance and take part in a cultural festival. Britain and the United States say that the French are violating UN sanctions against Iraq by not giving enough notice of the flight. However, France maintains that it is not trying to erode sanctions, but merely interpreting UN resolutions in a more liberal way than Washington and London. Protests The flight has been arranged by a private French group opposed to the international sanctions imposed after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. A second French group has announced plans for another flight on 29 September. Its organiser, Father Jean-Marie Benjamin, said it was "to fight against an intolerable situation which condemns an innocent population to a slow agony". Last week Russia flew a passenger flight to Iraq carrying humanitarian aid and a number of oil executives. But it gave the UN sanctions committee a few day's notice, enabling other countries to decide whether they wanted to raise any objections. Objections However, this time, France gave the committee only a few hours' notice, arguing that it did not need the UN's approval as the flight is not commercial. Britain has formally objected to the flight, saying that it breaks the sanctions. "We objected. We don't think it is humanitarian," a British diplomat said. US officials said they were still reviewing the situation, although they had raised similar concerns earlier in the day. The Netherlands, which chairs the committee on the Iraqi sanctions, has asked France to delay the flight's departure. Both France and Russia, close trading partners of Iraq before the invasion of Kuwait, want the sanctions eased and lifted. Future of sanctions The BBC's United Nations correspondent says the row over flights raises questions about the future of the sanctions now that such prominent countries appear increasingly willing to test the embargo's limits. Iraq re-opened its international airport last month to enable it to receive international flights against, despite the sanctions. In a separate development, Russia, France and Tunisia have proposed a reduction of the amount of compensation Iraq pays to Gulf war victims >from 30% to 20% in order to allow more funds for humanitarian goods. The proposal comes as the UN Security Council discusses the latest UN report on the oil-for-food programme that allows Iraq to buy humanitarian goods to counter the effect of sanctions. BBC News Online -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk