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Russia questions resolution

Friday June  8  2:27 AM ET

Russia Questioning Premise of New Iraqi Proposals
By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Britain intends to submit an amended 
text of its U.N. Security Council draft resolution to revamp sanctions 
against Iraq, but Russia questioned the underlying premise of the 

Russian Ambassador Sergei Lavrov told reporters on Thursday
the draft, backed by the United States and revised somewhat by 
France, did not tackle fundamental problems of how the U.N. Security 
Council should suspend decade-old Iraqi sanctions.

He said a December 1999 resolution, which outlines requirements to 
get the embargoes suspended, had too many gaps.
``The eventual goal is to suspend sanctions and the resolution leaves 
things unsolved,'' Lavrov told reporters.

It was not immediately clear whether Russia would try to
amend the U.S.-British plan or abandon it altogether. Diplomats
said its negotiators had not engaged seriously in discussions on
the resolution this week, apparently awaiting instructions from 

At issue are U.S.-British proposals that would ease controls
on civilian goods imported by Iraq but tighten restrictions on military-
related supplies and smuggling.

The plan is a revision of the oil-for-food program, an
exception to the sanctions imposed in August 1990 when Iraq
invaded Kuwait. That program allows Iraq to sell oil and order
food, medicine and other goods under U.N. supervision.
It was renewed for one month last week in hopes that the new 
measures could be adopted by July 3.

A new text, expected to be circulated early next week,
includes some proposals from a French rival draft.
France also wants foreign companies to be able to invest in
Iraq's civilian sector, including its oil industry. But British
Ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstick said oil sector investments in
would be ``controversial.''

He noted that they would have to come in the context of the 
December 1999 Security Council that linked an easing of sanctions, 
including investments in Iraq's oil industry, to
Baghdad's cooperation with U.N. weapons inspectors.

The arms experts have not been allowed in the country since
they left on the eve of a U.S.-British bombing raid in December

However, Greenstick said other foreign investments might be feasible. 
``For instance, the council I know is interested in the education, 
health and agricultural sectors which are so important for 
fundamental living in Iraq,'' he said.

Ireland and Tunisia, among others, were in favor of France's proposal 
while the Netherlands, not on the council this year, had distributed a 
memorandum to members urging that oil industry investments be 

Iraq, in protest against the entire revision of the
sanctions, halted oil exports on Monday. Baghdad wants the
embargoes lifted or at least made ineffective and objects to any
system that would perpetuate them.

On Thursday Iraqi President Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) 
urged Russia, as a permanent council member, to use its veto power 
to kill the resolution.

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