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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iraqi Papers Call for Deals With U.S.

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- An Iraqi newspaper said oil contracts signed with Russian and Chinese companies should instead go to U.S. firms, which can pressure President Bill Clinton to end UN sanctions on Iraq.

Iraqi newspapers said Russia, China and France, which have traditionally had lucrative trade ties with Iraq, had done little to prevent the UN Security Council from prolonging the sanctions.

The weekly newspaper al-Mustaqbal, or The Future, owned by President Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Uday, called Saturday on the Iraqi government to cancel oil contracts signed last year with Russian and Chinese companies and grant them instead to American firms.

"We should cancel contracts, which in fact have not been implemented yet, with Russia and China and suspend talks with the French to sign new contracts and start negotiations with those who can twist Clinton's neck," the paper said in reference to U.S. oil firms.

Another paper owned by Uday, Babel, echoed the same theme in a front-page editorial.

"Promises of some of the big [superpowers] that they would work for the implementation of paragraph 22 [lifting the embargo on Iraq's oil export] were absent during the recent meeting of the Security Council," it said.

Babel, Iraq's most influential newspaper, said some member states of the council had not called for lifting the sanctions for fear that it would be vetoed by the United States.

Iraq last year signed contracts with Russian and Chinese firms to help develop large oil fields in southern Iraq. Baghdad has also been negotiating with two French companies to develop a couple of oil fields in a southern region of Iraq.

Implementation of these contracts would not start until the sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait were lifted.

Mustaqbal said: "The recent review of the sanctions imposed on Iraq for The weekly newspaper al-Mustaqbal more than seven years has proved that France, Russia and China are unable to do anything to break the embargo.

"We should wash our hands from the idea that these three big powers ... can help us to break the embargo," it added.

Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan on Saturday renewed Iraq's call for the lifting of the crippling sanctions.

"The time is ripe for lifting the embargo, and the Security Council should meet its commitments toward Iraq," Ramadan told reporters after opening a conference for Arab politicians and dignitaries in the Iraqi capital.

On Friday, Iraqi leaders warned the UN Security Council that prolonging sanctions against Baghdad would lead to "grave consequences," without giving details.

Sanctions were extended Monday after Richard Butler, the head of the UN Special Commission in charge of disarming Iraq, told the Security Council that virtually no progress had been made in arms inspections over the past six months.