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U.S. Resumes Mail Service to Iraq

August 25, 2004

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The U.S. Postal Service has resumed mail service to Iraq.

Mail to Iraq was limited to airmail letters last year because of the disruption caused by the change in government there following the ouster of Saddam Hussein.

Ray Murphy, a New York postal employee, led a team working with the Iraqi postal administration on restoring service, postal officials said Wednesday. Mail service, including parcels, was resumed after Murphy reported that Iraq now can receive and deliver mail, postal spokesman Gerry McKiernan said.

Murphy said in a recent interview that circumstances were grim for the mail when his five-member team arrived there six months ago. Domestic mail that once took weeks to reach its destination is now getting delivered in days, and the time for international deliveries has gone from months to weeks.

Murphy said the economic neglect over the last 30 years was ``horrifying,″ and the system had deteriorated so much under Saddam Hussein’s government that a letter from abroad took three to six months to arrive.

The team found that of 375 post offices, 275 were functioning with limited coverage. Only an estimated 13 percent of Iraqis use the mail.

Murphy’s team helped establish postal codes to improve speed and reliability and negotiated with the Universal Postal Union to get Iraq full voting-member status. The organization coordinates postal policies among its 189 member nations.

Iraq was an ancient pioneer in mail, its postal system dating back to 1400 B.C., when couriers exchanged mail between the kings of Babylon and Egypt. Many traces of correspondence among Iraq, Syria, Iran and Lebanon exist in the Iraqi postal museum, as the early kings realized the importance of mail in developing and binding nations.

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