Iraq's Odious Debts

Russia urges political consensus over Iraq

Itar-Tass/ACSNA/IRNA
IRNA, Iran
May 21, 2003

Stockholm — Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said on Wednesday that Russia expects that ‘the remaining questions on the new resolution regarding Iraq will be settled in the near future’.

The minister said, “We are expecting to reach a political consensus.

“The adoption of the resolution will provide an additional opportunity to the world community in the solution of primary tasks of the post-war Iraq reconstruction, first of all humanitarian problems,” Ivanov emphasized.

He expressed the hope that an active work in the UN Security Council will give a chance to develop a consensus decision in the interests of the Iraqi people, stability in the region and the world.

Igor Ivanov said that all 15 members of the UN Security Council ‘have managed to make a considerable move forward in bringing closer their positions as concerns a resolution on Iraq’.

The lifting of sanctions against Iraq is one of the issues in a comprehensive approach to the post-war settlement in Iraq, Ivanov stressed at a press conference here.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov said on Wednesday that Russia would define its stance only upon receipt of the final draft of the UN Security Council resolution on Iraq.

“Voting against is unlikely to change anything because passing or rejecting the draft will change nothing from the legal viewpoint,” Fedotov emphasized.

The task is to fit the entire post-war Iraqi settlement in the UN legal framework via the UN Security Council resolution, the Russian diplomat explained.

Fedotov noted that the text of the draft has a provision on the United Nations active and independent role in four major areas, such as coordination of humanitarian efforts, assistance in Iraq’s restoration, creation of new Iraqi authorities, control over the Fund for Iraq’s Development and Iraqi oil exports.

It is noteworthy that the United Nations will play its own independent role in these processes, Fedotov stressed.

Asked to comment on the prospects for ditching the disarmament ‘files’ to lift sanctions against Iraq, Fedotov said that the draft resolution prescribes a more clear-cut procedure for this process, the Russian diplomat went on to say.

Fedotov emphasized that the document also stipulated for the role of international organizations like the UNMOVIC and the IAEA.

Fedotov said Moscow will cooperate with transitional Iraqi authorities on the basis of international law. “Russia has economic interests in Iraq.

We have always actively cooperated with this country in the trade and economic sphere,” Fedotov emphasized. “Iraq has been our large partner for many decades; until 1990 the annual trade turnover between our countries reached two billion dollars,” the diplomat said.

A number of civil industrial facilities was built and continues to be built in Iraq, he said. “Russia is therefore ready to continue interacting with Iraq in all fields; we are interested in developing mutually advantageous cooperation with this country,” he said.

In his view, after the UN sanctions against Iraq are lifted, the Oil for Food Program should be dropped. “What is important now is not to preserve the humanitarian program but to ensure a smooth transfer from the program which meets the immediate needs of the Iraqi population to the lifting of the sanctions in order to avoid another crisis,” Fedotov stated.

The new Security Council resolution drafted by the United States proposes extending the transition period to six months. “The document also defines how the existing contracts will be treated, how the money from the special UN account will be spent, and also when it may be transferred to the Iraqi development fund,” the deputy foreign minister noted.

Russia is ready to discuss the issue of Iraq’s debts at the Paris Club of creditors, Yuri Fedotov said. The question is, “Will the debts be reflected in the draft resolution of the UN Security Council on Iraq?” he told reporters in Paris.

The draft resolution ‘points to the civilized way of solving the problem’, Fedotov said. He continued, “Contracts that have been signed in the frame of the UN humanitarian program must be implemented.”

The diplomat expressed confidence that ‘parts of the contracts can be realized, because they envision deliveries of what Iraq needs most of all — equipment for the restoration of elementary civil infrastructure, water treatment facilities, and components for the construction of electric stations’.

The contracts that will be delayed for any reason should be compensated, Fedotov stressed. Yuri Fedotov and American Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow have stressed the need for the UN Security Council’s unity on Iraq with consideration for reciprocal interests.

A Foreign Ministry official told Itar-Tass on Wednesday that diplomats stressed at their meeting in Moscow ‘importance of giving the UN a weighty role in postwar settlement in Iraq’.

Fedotov and Vershbow ‘have discussed in detail a draft resolution of the UN Security Council on Iraq’, with a focus on humanitarian aid and broad international assistance to Iraq’s economic development.

The sides called for the continuation of constructive political dialogue between Russia and the US.

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