Friday, May 09, 2003
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By Sridhar Krishnaswami
"The easing of the U.S. sanctions will bring much needed aid and humanitarian relief to the Iraqi people as they begin the process of rebuilding their lives after more than two decades of brutal dictatorship," remarked the Treasury Secretary, John Snow, while announcing the administration's decision.
The U.S. President, George W. Bush, announced the suspension of sanctions at a press conference with the Prime Minister of Spain, Jose Marie Aznar, one of the key allies in the conflict over Iraq. The Suspension of the Iraq Sanctions Act means, among other things, that Government-funded and private humanitarian assistance can be shipped to Iraq and people in the U.S. can send up to $500 a month to family and friends. But export of certain goods in the realm of national security, will, however, require a special clearance from the Government.
The U.S., along with Britain and Spain, are getting ready to introduce a resolution in the Security Council as early as this Friday; and the administration is on a major lobbying offensive in New York and at world capitals, especially among the 15 members represented in the Council.
"The atmosphere that existed prior to the war has changed and... people now want to work together for the good of the Iraqi people," Mr. Bush said of the efforts at the United Nations. The Secretary of State, Colin Powell, met the U.N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan, in New York on Wednesday and is all set to begin a series of talks in Europe and in West Asia shortly. Other senior members of the administration are travelling to major capitals in the world with a view to winning over support for the U.S.-led efforts at the U.N.
For instance, the Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, would have raised this issue in Pakistan during his trip. Pakistan is one of the 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council and is the President of the Council for May.
The Bush administration is under no illusions of the kind of "fight" that is in store at the world body even while there is optimism that ultimately the language of the resolution would be satisfying to all, especially the veto-holding members. Already, Germany and France have indicated a desire to be flexible on the issue of sanctions; and only Russia is insisting on some tough stipulations to go along with the move. This would have to do with certification on weapons of mass destruction; control of Iraqi oil revenues; and modalities of future contracts with Baghdad in the realm of oil field development.
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