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Iraq Urges UN To Renew Oil Program

December 6, 1999

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Iraq asked the United Nations on Monday for a six-month renewal of its oil-for-food program, but reiterated that it will not accept a draft British-Dutch resolution calling for the revival of U.N. weapons inspections.

In a letter to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said Iraq turned down stopgap extensions of the U.N.-approved program because they were impractical, the official Iraqi News Agency reported.

Aziz ``expressed Iraq’s readiness to deal with a full extension of the oil program,″ the agency reported.

The U.N. Security Council voted to extend the program for two weeks last month and for another week on Friday, provoking protests by Iraq.

The oil-for-food program allows Iraq to sell limited quantities of oil, in an exception to U.N. trade sanctions, and to use the money to buy food, medicine and other essential supplies. The program has routinely been renewed for six months since its inception in December 1996.

The latest renewals, supported by the United States, were to spur council members to reach agreement on a comprehensive package on Iraq.

Aziz urged Annan to include in the six-month extension the improvements suggested by some council members. He did not elaborate.

Under U.N. resolutions, sanctions imposed after Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait are not to be lifted until U.N. inspectors certify that Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction.

A draft British-Dutch resolution links a partial suspension of sanctions to the resumption of disarmament inspections.

It is expected to upgrade the oil-for-food program by removing the financial ceiling of $5.2 billion and allowing foreign companies to invest in the country’s battered oil industry.

Aziz made it clear to Annan that ``Iraq categorically rejects the British resolution,″ the news agency said.

The deputy premier said the resolution ``imposes new coercive conditions on Iraq which threaten its sovereignty and national interests.″

Iraq has said that its weapons programs have ended and that all sanctions should be ended.

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