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ARABS-UN - Mar. 9 - Iraq Protests Entry Of US, Turkish Officials.

Iraq complains that US and Turkish officials entered Iraq illegally in February to meet leaders of Kurdish factions, and calls on the UN to prevent any recurrence. The request is made by Iraqi FM Al Sahaf in identical letters to Secretary-General Annan and to the president of the Security Council. Al Sahaf says a "delegation from the US Department of State accompanied by a number of officials of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs entered Iraqi territory illegally by way of the Iraq-Turkey boundary in the period from Feb. 8 to 12, 2000 and met with leaders of the warring Kurdish factions in the area". Charging that they were accompanied by "other elements involved in espionage and sabotage", Al Sahaf says Iraq "denounces unethical and irresponsible practices of this kind". He says they were "part and parcel of the frenzied acts of aggression committed by the US and Turkey" that were an open and deliberate interference in Iraq's internal affairs and a threat to its security and territorial integrity. (The Baghdad government has had little direct control over the northern part of Iraq since the end of the 1991 Gulf war. The area forms one of the no-fly zones patrolled by US and British planes to deter government attacks against the inhabitants. The US has tried on a number of occasions to reconcile rival Kurdish factions in hopes of fostering the downfall of Iraqi Pres. Saddam Hussein.) Al Sahaf says Iraq had previously drawn the Security Council's attention to the "gravity of such outlaw practices" that occurred in February but had been met by "total silence". He calls on the council to discharge its responsibilities as stipulated by the UN Charter by "opposing actions that violate the norms of international law" and by taking the necessary measures to ensure respect for Iraq's sovereignty and political independence. State Department spokesman Rubin tells reporters in Washington that "we have, from time to time, sent delegations to work with the Kurdish officials in northern Iraq to promote reconciliation between the officials there" and to ensure they complied with an agreement reached in Washington in Sept. 1998, under the auspices of Secretary of State Albright. (The agreement was aimed at ending clashes between Massoud Barzani of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and Jalal Talabani of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.) Rubin says he was aware the Iraqi government did not support such visits. He adds: "But we have made clear, while we recognise the territorial integrity of Iraq, that we think it's appropriate for us to meet with ... Kurdish officials in northern Iraq, and we will continue to do so as we see fit".
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 11, 2000
Words:439
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