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The BBC's Barbara Plett
"One of the hot topics will be the US and British air strikes"
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The BBC's Orla Guerin
"Child mortality has more than doubled during the sanction years"
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BBC World Affairs correspondent David Loyn
"Most countries in the world now do not believe what Britain and America says"
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Wednesday, 21 February, 2001, 00:12 GMT
Iraq denounces sanctions review
Iraqi protests
Iraqis protesting against the airstrikes in Baghdad
Iraqi officials have angrily denounced US and British plans to ease the UN embargo.

The Vice-President, Taha Yassin Ramadan, called them poison.

The United Kingdom and the United States say they are carrying out a review of sanctions against Iraq, aimed at moving towards so-called "smart sanctions".

What they said may mislead those who do not know the reality, but in fact what they said is poison

Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan
The review is said to be aimed at scrapping any sanctions that appear to hurt the Iraqi people - while continuing those against the Iraqi Government.

The BBC's Barbara Plett reports that the Iraqis have had mixed reactions to the Friday's US-British airstrikes on targets near Baghdad.

Some said they expected nothing less from an enemy, others that they were disappointed by the new US administration.

New approach

Mr Ramadan said any ideas Britain and US had about easing sanctions were misleading because they were actually partners in prolonging the blockade.

"What they said may mislead those who do not know the reality, but in fact what they said is poison," he said during a visit to Tunisia.

There is a long and thoughtful review of the effect of sanctions against Iraq

British minister Brian Wilson
The US-British review follows widespread international condemnation of last week's airstrikes.

The aim of the "smart sanctions", ministers say, is to stop Saddam Hussein's military from developing weapons of mass destruction.

British Foreign Office minister Brian Wilson said there was no question of all sanctions being lifted.

"There is a long and thoughtful review of the effect of sanctions against Iraq," Mr Wilson said.

"There are two strands to British Government policy.

"The first is to minimise the humanitarian impact on the Iraqi people and the second is to maximise the inability of Saddam Hussein to wage war on his own people, and the region and the wider world."

Mr Wilson rejected claims that the sanctions meant the Iraqi people were being denied medicines or food.

UN Meeting

Meanwhile another senior Iraqi official, Abdul-Ghani Abdul-Ghafur, criticised the United Nations for failing to censure the raids.

"Where is the Security Council... where is the UN and where are those who defend the UN's charter?" said Abdul-Ghafur, a senior member of the ruling Baath Party.

In New York, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Iraq had confirmed that it would attend UN talks next week on the future of the curbs, despite the bombing.

Washington and London insist sanctions cannot be finally lifted until Iraq complies with 1991 Gulf War ceasefire resolutions.

These require that UN weapons inspectors verify Iraq has destroyed its weapons of mass destruction and a system of weapons monitoring is in place.

But Iraq says it has met its obligations and has rallied international support for an end to the blockade.

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See also:

20 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Iraqi sanctions under review
19 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Iraqi raids 'self-defence'
20 Feb 01 | Middle East
Iraq strikes timed to 'avoid Chinese'
17 Feb 01 | Middle East
Iraq defiant as allies strike
17 Feb 01 | Middle East
Iraqi press calls for revenge
17 Feb 01 | Middle East
Little support for Iraq attack
16 Feb 01 | Middle East
Analysis: A tougher line?
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