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Iraq to reject aid, urges use of `force’

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Sanctions-hit Iraq said on Saturday it will accept no more humanitarian aid and urged friends instead to campaign "with force" to end its eight-year economic embargo.

A statement issued after a Cabinet meeting chaired by President Saddam Hussein said Iraqis would not be beggars."The Cabinet sent its thanks and appreciation to all parties and people who have exerted efforts to offer material assistance to Iraq under the title of humanitarian aid," said the statement, carried by the official Iraqi News Agency.

"Iraq does not need money, and its people are not lazy people asking for aid from others," it added.

"The Cabinet affirmed that Iraqi authorities would apologize from now on (and not) accept any material assistance which could be classified as humanitarian aid."

The statement came the day after two aid flights, from Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, arrived in Baghdad. They were part of a growing wave of humanitarian donations sent in recent months by sympathetic, mainly Arab, states.

Iraq blames the sanctions, imposed for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, for the death of 1.5 million people. It has always maintained that foreign assistance, and the supplies it buys under its oil-for-food accord with the United Nations, cannot be an alternative to the full lifting of sanctions.

"The Cabinet expressed its thanks to those parties and people and (expressed) its hope that they will continue with us under another framework. The basis now is that those parties and people in solidarity with our people should raise the slogan of lifting the unjust sanctions on Iraq with force," the INA statement said.

Iraq, which used to be a major aid donor, has received food shipments from countries as impoverished as Sudan and Djibouti.

In recent weeks it has waged a major diplomatic offensive to campaign for international support for an end to the sanctions, which cannot be lifted until it has persuaded U.N. inspectors it has scrapped all its weapons of mass destruction.

Iraq sent senior government ministers to lobby Arab states and most of the 15-member states of the U.N. Security Council.

The United States and Britain, the two countries that have taken the toughest line against Iraq in the council, maintain that the oil-for-food deal meets Baghdad's humanitarian needs.

The accord, which has allowed Iraq to sell $2 billion of oil every six months for the past 11/2 years and buy urgently needed food and medicine with some of the revenue, was more than doubled this month to allow Iraq to sell $4.5 billion worth of oil between June and November.

Iraq is unlikely to be able to export that much oil unless it gets early approval from the Security Council to buy $300 million worth of oil industry spare parts to renovate installations described by U.N.-commissioned experts in April as being in a "lamentable state."