HL U.N. envoy, Iraq to meet on aid Food, medical help imperiled
Byline: Marcia Kunstel WASHINGTON BUREAU
SO ATLANTA JOURNAL AND CONSTITUTION (ATJC)
Section: NATIONAL NEWS
LP Washington - Iraqi President Saddam Hussein this week opens what are expected to be tough negotiations with a U.N. special envoy over the continued presence of a U.N. guard force and humanitarian programs in Iraq. * Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, the special envoy, is to arrive in Baghdad on Tuesday to begin talks on extending the agreement that permits a small contingent of U.N. guards to patrol Iraqi towns and cities. The same pact gives U.N. humanitarian agencies the right to import aid supplies and control their distribution.
TX Most of the 500 U.N. guards are posted in northern cities to prevent massacres of Kurds, who have been in sporadic revolt against Saddam"s regime. Prince Sadruddin signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Iraq"s government last spring, following the Persian Gulf War and subsequent rebellions by Kurds in the north and Shiite Muslims in the south of Iraq. The memorandum expires at the end of this year. A spokesman with Prince Sadruddin"s office in Geneva would say only that the envoy is going to Baghdad to negotiate "the future of U.N. humanitarian activity in Iraq" and that he "has a lot of options." The MOU is a spinoff of the cease-fire agreement Saddam accepted to end the Gulf War. That agreement maintains international sanctions and requires that Iraq dismantle its weapons of mass destruction. "They say the current MOU infringes on their sovereignty. That is what the problem is," said Alex Rondos of Catholic Relief Services, one of the few private organizations working in Iraq. Without the memorandum or a similar agreement, Mr. Rondos said, any humanitarian program would be difficult to continue. Prince Sadruddin also is expected to appeal to Saddam to carry out the U.N. Security Council resolution calling on Iraq to sell $1.6 billion worth of oil under tight restrictions, with most proceeds to be used to buy food and medicine or to pay off war debts. Other oil sales are forbidden by the sanctions. The humanitarian programs Prince Sadruddin oversees in Iraq already are short of cash, with donations affected by frustration over Iraq"s refusal to abide by the oil-selling plan. The envoy asked U.N. members for $418 million to cover costs through the end of this year but has received less than $300 million.
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