Iraq wants US, British out

 

Iraq has told the UN verbally it would no longer accept American or British citizens working in the country as part of its humanitarian programme because of the bombing raids conducted by both countries, diplomats said.

The news, which reached New York on New Year's Eve, could cause a crisis in the oil-for-food programme that allows Iraq to use oil revenues to purchase food, medicine and other supplies under UN supervision.

So far the diplomats, who reported the news on Thursday, said Iraq has not put its directive in writing.

The exact number of American and British citizens among the 420 UN humanitarian workers is not known. But the sources said yesterday that Baghdad would not allow about 20 Americans and Britons on leave to return.

UN officials declined to comment. "We've heard such reports but we have nothing in writing," said Mr John Mills, spokesman for the UN oil-for-food humanitarian programme.