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Bosnia: Government Admits Selling Arms To Iraq

Banja Luka, 23 October 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The Bosnian Serb government admitted today that a Bosnian Serb firm illegally sold arms to Iraq, using an intermediary in Yugoslavia. Bosnian Serb government spokeswoman Cvijeta Kovacevic said the Bosnian Serb firm Orao sold arms to Iraq in violation of the United Nations arms embargo in that country.

The state-controlled, Yugoslav trading firm Jugoimport acted as an intermediary in the deal.

The Yugoslav government yesterday sacked an assistant to the defense minister and the general manager of Jugoimport due to allegations that the firm sold military equipment to Iraq.

Nebojsa Covic, a deputy prime minister in Yugoslavia's dominant republic Serbia, said the allegations were a matter of urgency for Belgrade but blamed the government of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for arranging the sales.

The U.S. State Department said yesterday it expected both Sarajevo and Belgrade to stop the transfers, investigate the sales, and take action against the two firms.