HL IRAQ RELEASES BRITON FOR FROZEN FUNDS
Byline: THE NEW YORK TIMES
SO THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE (SLTR)
LP UNITED NATIONS -- Iraq freed a long-imprisoned British businessman on Saturday in return for the unfreezing of blocked funds in London, and the Baghdad government also agreed to allow the United Nations to continue its humanitarian efforts in the country for another six months. * But officials said that Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, the United Nations negotiator now visiting Baghdad, had been unable to persuade the Iraqi authorities to start selling oil to pay for imports of badly needed food and medicine and to compensate victims of the Kuwait invasion as the Security Council had ordered under the terms of the agreement ending the Persian Gulf War.
TX The unfreezing of funds in Britain announced Saturday was apparently the first unlocking of Iraqi assets in the wake of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. After the invasion, Western countries froze all Iraqi financial assets deposited in major banking centers. It was not clear whether the funds unblocked in London on Saturday constituted all or part of Iraq"s deposits in British banks. But the Security Council has already said that countries may unfreeze such deposits, provided the money is used for humanitarian relief purposes and provided that the council committee on sanctions approves the shipments. The scale of Iraq"s growing medical and food needs was underscored by a new report circulated to Security Council members by the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross last week. The report calls on the council and Iraq to "break the present deadlock" and relax trade sanctions so Baghdad can start importing food and critical medical supplies again. After holding Ian Richter, a 45-year-old British chemical engineer, for 5 1/2 years, Iraq set him free on Saturday as part of a deal worked out with Sadruddin under which the British government will immediately unblock some $125 million in frozen Iraqi funds deposited with London banks and permit this money to be spent on humanitarian imports of food and medicine. Reached by satellite telephone in Sadruddin"s suite at Baghdad"s Al Rasheed hotel on Saturday, Richter said he was "feeling quite wonderful to be free again." He said he had been treated reasonably well over the last year, while efforts were under way to obtain his release, but that conditions "were not so good before that." Richter was sentenced to life in prison after a one-hour trial in 1987 on charges of paying illegal commissions to the mayor of Baghdad. The mayor was later hanged for corruption. Sadruddin plans to fly Richter to London today on his private jet.
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