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[casi] Iraq: Friends at UN Will Foil 'Evil U.S. Scheme'



Iraq: Friends at UN Will Foil 'Evil U.S. Scheme'

Nov. 1
 By Samia Nakhoul

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq said it was confident Friday that its friends on the
U.N. Security Council would foil the "evil schemes" of the United States and
Britain.

Russia and France, both veto-wielding Security Council members, are trying to
amend a tough U.S.-sponsored draft resolution intended to authorize Washington to
use force to compel Iraq to disarm.

"Iraq has announced its agreement to allow the return of U.N. weapons
inspectors in response to the wishes of some friendly states to dismiss the
allegations of the evil U.S. administration and its ally Britain," Iraqi Vice
President Taha Yassin Ramadan said in a speech opening a trade fair.

"We are fully confident that these states will definitely stand by Iraq and
oppose any draft resolution that the United States and Britain will try to pass
through the Security Council in the future under any formula," he added.

Iraq has agreed to let arms inspectors return after a four-year absence,
saying it will give them unfettered access to sites where it is suspected of
developing weapons of mass destruction.

But the inspectors' return has been delayed by U.S. efforts to secure a
tougher mandate authorizing the use of force if Washington deems Iraq to have
failed to cooperate.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said in Moscow that Russia and the four
other permanent members of the Security Council had moved toward agreement on a
new resolution. But he said Russia stood by its demand that Washington should seek
later, explicit, U.N. authorization before using force.

Speaking on behalf of President Saddam Hussein, Ramadan said Washington wanted
to attack Iraq to gain control of its vast oil reserves and retaliate for its
support of Palestinians waging an uprising against Israeli occupation.

TRADE FAIR, WAR DRUMS

Ramadan spoke at the opening of the 10-day-long Baghdad Trade Fair, in which
1,200 firms from 49 countries are taking part, despite the threat of war.

He said the high turnout by Arab, European and Asian companies was evidence of
the support and determination of the world to forge economic ties with his
country.

The official Iraqi News Agency (INA) quoted Ramadan as saying on the sidelines
of the fair that the United States was trying to influence U.N. arms inspectors.

"The evil U.S. administration is using dirty means to influence U.N. employees
to change their stand toward agreement reached between the United Nations and Iraq
in Vienna on the return of inspectors," INA quoted him as telling reporters.

He was referring to a meeting in Washington Wednesday between President Bush
and chief arms inspector Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the
International Atomic Energy Agency.

"America does not want the inspectors to return but it wants them to place
hurdles ... to say that Iraq does not comply with international resolutions," he
added.

Ramadan said the United States had failed to break the Iraqi people despite 12
years of punitive U.N. sanctions imposed after Baghdad's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

The sanctions, which Ramadan said had cost the Iraqi economy $150 billion over
the past 12 years, ban Iraq from trading freely with the rest of the world. Iraq
is allowed to buy food, medicine and other essentials under a 1996 oil-for-food
deal with the United Nations.

Ramadan said this year's fair was the largest since the event resumed in 1995
for the first time since the 1991 Gulf War that ended Iraq's occupation of Kuwait.

Saudi Arabia officially participated in the fair for the first time since the
two Arab countries broke ties over the invasion of Kuwait.

Among the main absentees were the United States and Britain. Iraq, a booming
market for Western business before the 1991 Gulf War, has the world's largest oil
reserves after Saudi Arabia.


Copyright 2002 Reuters News Service.

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