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Friday, 24 March, 2000, 20:07 GMT
Saddam 'winning propaganda war'

Tariq Aziz, Baghdad's fluent spokesman in the world media
By UN correspondent Mark Devenport

The United Nations Secretary-General has warned that the international community is in danger of losing the propaganda war with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein over who is responsible for the suffering of the Iraqi people.



The UN has always been on the side of the vulnerable and the weak

Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan told the Security Council that the UN oil-for-food programme, which enables Baghdad to sell oil in return for food and medicine, had brought Iraqi civilians some relief but their essential needs remained unsatisfied.

He was speaking during a UN Security Council debate on Iraq.

The Secretary-General said he was especially concerned about the plight of Iraq's children, and he warned the Council that it needed to improve the effectiveness of its humanitarian programme.



Annan is concerned about import delays
"The UN has always been on the side of the vulnerable and the weak, and has always sought to relieve suffering," he said. "And yet here we are accused of causing suffering to an entire population.

"We are in danger of losing the argument, or the propaganda war, if we haven't lost it already, about who is responsible for this situation in Iraq - President Saddam Hussein or the United Nations."

On hold

Mr Annan reiterated his concern about the $1.5bn worth of contracts for Iraq which some Security Council members - principally the United States - have delayed by putting on indefinite hold.

Washington wants more information about these contracts to ensure Iraq does not receive items with potential military uses.

The US says it is removing objections on 70 of the 1,000 contracts it currently has on hold.

It is also introducing a resolution doubling the amount of money Iraq will be allowed to spend on spare parts for its poorly-maintained oil industry.

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