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Iraq: UN Food Program Refused

Baghdad, 28 December 1998 (RFE/RL) - Iraq has said it will refuse to extend a United Nations-monitored program that brings food to families struggling under U.N. sanctions. Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh said yesterday that Baghdad would ask some 400 U.N. workers who monitor the oil-for-food program to leave. He did not give a date.

U.N. officials said they had not heard anything about the matter from Iraqi officials. The latest phase of the oil-for-food program doesn't expire until the end of April.

The announcement is Baghdad's latest response to the four-day U.S. and British bombing campaign that ended Dec. 20. Washington and London launched the airstrikes after U.N. weapons inspectors reported that Baghdad had not kept its promise of full cooperation in the search for its weapons of mass destruction.

Also yesterday, Iraq called on Arab countries to violate the U.N. economic sanctions imposed after Baghdad's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Members of the Arab Parliamentary Union, meeting in Amman, Jordan, issued a joint statement condemning the U.S-led strikes and urging Arab lawmakers to pressure their governments to unilaterally lift the sanctions.