With the U.S. military focusing less on war and more on providing humanitarian relief and post-war security, the Bush administration is now planning for an international donor?s conference to raise money to help rebuild Iraq. Kimberly Russell reports there could be a move to consider suspending sanctions against Iraq.
The French government is calling for an immediate end to United Nations-imposed sanctions against Iraq. French officials also proposed phasing out the U.N. oil-for food program. The program is the only source of rations for sixty percent of Iraq?s population. But France says the U.N. must first verify that Iraq no longer has weapons of mass destruction.
Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix says he is ready to return to Iraq to do that. While visiting, Austria, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said he expects the oil-for food program to be streamlined for efficiency.
KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL
?Attempts are being made to streamline it, to be able to facilitate shipment of goods into the country, and I think we will be seeing some considerable improvement in the coming weeks.?
In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said ending the sanctions would be a move in the right direction.
RICHARD BOUCHER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN
?It is recognition that there is a change in the situation. We think that changed situation justifies, in fact, dictates, that we should lift all the sanctions and not in any way inconvenience the Iraqi people as they try to establish normal relationships and status in the world.?
Mr. Boucher said the U.S. welcomes France?s attempts to end the sanctions, but he said U.S. and French officials will hold meetings to further discuss the issue.