Iraq

Iraq says able to ensure food flow in case of war

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BAGHDAD, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Iraq said on Wednesday it had taken all the steps necessary to ensure its people would have sufficient food supplies in the event of a U.S.-led war.

''Even if all the outlets were closed we will ensure food for the Iraqi people as we ensured it in 1991 under the fall of bombs,'' Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh told a news conference, referring to the 1991 Gulf War.

''We are fully confident we will be able to meet the requirements of the Iraqi people,'' he added.

The United States and Britain are massing troops in the Gulf region in preparation for a possible invasion over Baghdad's alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Saleh said authorities had distributed six months of food rations in advance to every Iraqi family and dug wells in residential areas as part of arrangements to safeguard water supplies during any conflict.

''Iraq has prepared all possible strategies to meet the requirements of the Iraqi people during any military action or aggression,'' he said.

Saleh said Baghdad had also been supplying the Kurdish- controlled north with flour.

''We have been providing the north of Iraq with flour for four months...from the stock of the government outside the oil- for-food deal,'' Saleh said.

The remote mountainous enclave of northern Iraq has been outside Baghdad's control since the end of the 1991 Gulf War over Kuwait and is controlled by two rival Iraqi Kurdish groups.

Iraq, under U.N. sanctions since it invaded Kuwait in 1990, is allowed to sell oil for food and medicine under an agreement with the United Nations.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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