Document shows Jordan, Iraq plan to step up cooperation


LONDON -- Citing what it says are the minutes of a meeting last week, a British newspaper yesterday said that Jordan has become Saddam Hussein's lifeline and is circumventing sanctions for Iraq on a large scale.

The 11-page document contains the minutes of a top-level joint Iraqi-Jordanian trade committee, dated June 18-20, the Observer said. It shows Jordan is passing goods and technology to Iraq in contravention of the United Nations embargo, to which King Hussein is a signatory.

Economic sanctions are the main means of putting pressure on Mr. Hussein to eliminate weapons of mass destruction as required by the cease-fire agreement and to accept outside intervention to check on his treatment of Iraqi citizens.

The Observer says the document shows "the enormous scale" of Jordan's sanctions violations, which Jordan and Iraq "clearly state they intend to step up." It quotes the minutes as saying that both sides have resolved to endeavor "by all possible means" to reach trade of $900 million between the two countries in the year ending next May.

The minutes are signed by the heads of the delegations -- Abdulwahid al Makhzumi, adviser of the Central Bank of Iraq, and Dr. Ibrahim Badran, undersecretary of the Ministry of Industry for Jordan.

It mentions that Iraq is behind in its payments, but says arrangements have been made to reschedule past debts. The document does not say how Iraq pays.

Jordan was accused of breaking the embargo on trade with Iraq before the war began. Jordan denied the charges, but incoming allied troops found fresh ammunition and weapons with Jordanian markings.

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