U.N. envoy reports problems on Iraq food plan
''There are still serious operational problems to look at,'' Holdbrook Arthur director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Iraq told Reuters.
Arthur said he did not think the problems were insurmountable but they had to be addressed before food supplies from Iraq's partial oil deal with U.N. start pouring in.
The Rome-based WFP sent Arthur to Iraq to administer the country's relief programme emanating from the oil-for-food scheme. Arthur was WFP's country director in Somalia, Ruwanda, Burundi and Tanzania before assuming his Iraq post early this month.
Arthur said the problems include the trucking of supplies from government-controlled areas to northern Iraq and also movement of convoys within the Kurdish-held region now administered by two warring Kurdish factions.
''There are differences in currency, in prices...availability of fuel. We have to collect a nominal fee for the rations...The political reality and differences between government-controlled areas and northern Iraq create serious problems,'' he said.
The WFP official also said Iraqi and U.N. officials were still discussing in Baghdad how to resolve the issue concerning the number of monitors to be placed in the country to supervise food distribution.
''I am concerned about the number of monitors but for me their significance is down the line. For me there are other issues to consider which are more important,'' Arthur said.
''They (Iraqis) have promised to resolve any difficulty I may face,'' he said.
Iraq's U.N. ambassador Nizar Hamdoun said in newspaper remarks on Friday that minor problems still needed to be resolved before his country's oil-for-food deal with the United Nations could be implemented.
But he said he believed Iraqi crude would reach international markets in a short time. He gave no specific date.
Iraq and the U.N. agreed in May on how to apply a 1995 Security Council offer for Baghdad to export limited quantities of its blocked oil exports to pay for urgent humanitarian needs.
Differences on procedural issues have
delayed implementation of the plan, allowing exports worth $2 billion over
of which $1.13 billion will remain at Iraq's disposal after paying 30 per cent for the 1991 Gulf War reparations and other U.N. costs.
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