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Wednesday, September 1, 1999 Published at 07:21 GMT 08:21 UK

World: Middle East

Iraqi oil for quake victims

Iraq says the oil will help the homeless in Turkey

The United States has agreed to a plan by Iraq to export more oil than international sanctions allow, in order to help the Turkish earthquake victims.

Turkey Earthquake
Iraq has already started piping an extra half a million barrels of oil worth about $10m across the border into Turkey.

More than 14,000 people were killed as a result of the earthquake in northern Turkey two weeks ago, and tremors have continued to hit the region.

One person was killed and nearly 170 people were injured on Tuesday in the latest in a series of aftershocks.

Aid in oil

[ image: The rebuilding costs will be huge]
The rebuilding costs will be huge
The Turkish Red Crescent says the Iraqi crude oil will be refined and sold at petrol stations, with profits going to the earthquake victims.

The United Nations Security Council's sanctions committee unofficially approved the donation on Tuesday.

Committee members said the arrangements would be given the official go-ahead by Wednesday evening, provided no country objected.

'Not a precedent'

Iraq would then receive a letter making it clear the donation would not set a precedent and that its oil exports were still subject to sanctions imposed in August 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait. Washington, traditionally Iraq's toughest critic, has already backed the move.

"This donation is taking place in the context of the extraordinary and unique circumstances faced by Turkey after the recent earthquake. It does not create any precedent for future or other transactions," said State Department spokesman James Foley.

Diplomats said the UN sanctions committee approved the proposed donation on humanitarian grounds.

They said the committee's recommendation means the donation will not count against Iraq's current export quota.

Under the three-year-old UN oil-for-food programme, Iraq is allowed to sell up to $5.26bn of oil every six months to purchase food and medicine for civilians suffering from sanctions and to pay for Gulf War reparations.

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