Britain and US insist on Iraq sanctions

BY MICHAEL SHERIDAN

Diplomatic Correspondent

Britain and the United States agreed yesterday to maintain a hard line against the relaxation of sanctions on Iraq despite increasing signs of dissent by France and Russia within the United Nations Security Council and a vigorous publicity campaign by Baghdad.

Pressure to ease sanctions is mounting ahead of a regular UN review on 13 March and the latest report by the UN's arms inspector, Rolf Ekeus, who is expected to make a statement to the Security Council on Monday.

Iraqi government newspapers made great play this week of the "shaky" unity among Security Council members.

"America is cornered," said the daily Al-Iraq, while President Saddam Hussein, in poetic mood, told a cabinet meeting that "God willing, the Iraqi ship will safely sail to the other side of the river."

The regime's case was bolstered yesterday by the head of a British business delegation to Iraq, Edmund Sykes, who told the AFP news agency that "the rest of the world" was already in Baghdad, touting for a share of an estimated $150bn (£95bn) in contracts over the next decade.

Mr Sykes said Iraqi officials claimed that even American companies maintained operations in Iraq through their Far Eastern subsidiaries. Businessmen from eight countries, including France and Italy, were also in the Iraqi capital during the past fortnight.

The changing climate has prompted Madeleine Albright, the US ambassador to the United Nations, to embark on a foreign tour to drum up support. Speaking in London yesterday, she said the US was seeking "to pre-empt any attempt at the premature easing of sanctions". She said dealing with Iraq was "like the Thousand and One Nights - each time a different story".

Ms Albright met the Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, before travelling to Muscat, Kuwait, Prague and Rome. A Foreign Office spokesman said Ms Albright and Mr Hurd saw eye to eye. "Saddam Hussein remains untrustworthy," he said, "the leopard does not change his spots."

But if harmony reigns between London and Washington, there are signs that Moscow and Paris are ready to push for sanctions to be eased to permit Iraq to export oil and rebuild its economy. Ms Albright admittedthere were differences with Moscow and Paris but said "they're wrong".

The Russian and French argument is likely to encounter opposition from Arab countries and from the UN. Kuwait's foreign minister was in London this week to urge continued measures against Iraq, citing Baghdad's failure to hand back looted equipment or account for people missing after the gulf war. Kuwait is supported by most Gulf states, Egypt and Syria.

More pertinent, perhaps, are the reports by Mr Ekeus on progress towards Iraqi disarmament and by the UN's special rapporteur on human rights. Mr Ekeus concluded another mission to Baghdad last week stating that Iraq was "too slow" in providing information about its non-conventional weapons programmes. His conclusions are unlikely to lend comfort to those urging a change in policy.

Even more damning was the latest report on human rights in Iraq presented to the UN in Geneva. The rapporteur gave a stark account of continued abuses, including random executions, torture and legalised amputations. He said there was no evidence that easing sanctions would help the ordinary Iraqi people, since any profits would end up in the hands of a clique around Saddam Hussein. He concluded that there was humanitarian case for easing sanctions.

Suggested Topics
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
Arts & Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'
tv
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
Sport
Pablo Larrazabal jumps into a pond in Kuala Lumpur to escape a swarm of hornets
videoSpain's Pablo Larrazabal's had a refreshing solution
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Sport
Jonathan Trott will take a second break from cricket after suffering a repeat of the stress-related illness that forced him out of the Ashes tour of Australia
sport
Life & Style
life
Life & Style
fashion
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
musicJethro Tull frontman leads ‘prog rock’ revival
Life & Style
Father and son: Michael Williams with son Edmund
lifeAs his son’s bar mitzvah approaches, CofE-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys he’s experienced in learning about his family’s other faith
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
comedy... writes Jenny Collier, the comedian whose recent show was cancelled because there were 'too many women' on the bill
News
House proud: keeping up with the Joneses now extends to children's playhouses
newsLuxury playhouses now on the market for as much as £800
News
news
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit