clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Egypt opposes new U.S.-led sanctions against Iraq

Egypt said Tuesday it opposes new sanctions against Iraq, joining France and Russia in resisting the move despite the intervention of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

The United States wants to impose a limited foreign travel ban on Iraq for refusing to cooperate with U.N. inspectors seeking to determine if Baghdad has ended efforts to build weapons of mass destruction, as ordered by the United Nations in 1991 at the end of the Persian Gulf War.But with major economic interests at stake, it remained doubtful Tuesday whether the personal diplomacy of Albright, a former U.N. ambassador, would be enough to sway opponents.

Egypt's deputy foreign minister, Seyed Kassem el-Misry, said his government wants Iraq to comply with U.N. orders "but it also keen to see the sufferings of the Iraqi people come to an end," according to the official Middle East News Agency.

Egypt is currently a member of the Security Council, which would have to approve the travel ban against Iraqi military and intelligence officers. The ban would be in addition to an oil export embargo and other sanctions imposed in 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait.

Of more serious concern to Washington is the opposition of France and Russia. They are permanent Security Council members - along with the United States, Britain and China - and can veto any resolution. Egypt is not a permanent member and has no veto.

U.S. and British diplomats say they have the support of nine of the 15 council members.

In Paris, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Jacques Rummelhardt said negotiations were continuing on the issue, indicating no agreement had been reached with Washington.

Rummelhardt said French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine had received phone calls from both Albright and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov on the possibility of imposing new sanctions.

State Department spokesman James Rubin told reporters Albright also sent a message to Primakov.

The United States and Britain proposed the travel ban after the chief U.N. weapons inspector, Richard Butler, reported this month that Iraq still was refusing to comply with U.N. orders to disclose information about long-range missile, chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.

The Security Council has refused to lift sanctions until the inspectors certify Iraqi compliance.