USIS Washington 


United Nations -- Juan Carlos Brandt, Senior Associate Spokesman for
the Secretary-General, briefed.

29 April 1998
Press Briefing


Mr. Brandt said that the Office of the Iraq Programme was pleased to
announce that as of Monday, 27 April, under Phase III of the
"oil-for-food" programme, 72 approval letters to ship humanitarian
goods to Iraq had been issued. Of those, 65 fell within the food
sector and seven for other humanitarian aid, including medicines. On
27 April, the total amount of funds in the United Nations Iraq Account
available for humanitarian supplies was approximately $503 million. Of
that amount, $493 million was used for food contracts and $10 million
for other humanitarian contracts.

Prior to 27 April, funds were allocated on a first-come-first-served
basis as stipulated by the rules and procedures of the Security
Council Committee monitoring the sanctions against Iraq, he went on.
That approach was also requested by the Government of Iraq. On 27
April, the Permanent Mission of Iraq had submitted to the Secretariat
a request to consider on a priority basis contracts pertaining to tea
and vegetable ghee only. That request was implemented with an
understanding that other food contracts would be postponed. Currently
there were approximately 170 approved contracts remaining, awaiting
receipt of oil revenues under the oil-for-food programme.


A correspondent sought clarification on the official United Nations
position in light of the interpretation of the 23 February Memorandum
of Understanding given yesterday by Mohammed Al-Sahaf, the Foreign
Minister of Iraq, at his press conference. That interpretation
appeared to be at odds with statements made by the Secretary-General
and other Secretariat officials. Could the official United Nations
position be clarified in terms of what the Memorandum meant about
rights of unrestricted access to the eight presidential palace sites?

Mr. Brandt said he did not have a copy of the agreement and its annex,
but that if he did, he would ask the correspondent to read it and to
draw whatever conclusions could be drawn from a very clear and very
straightforward text.

He went on to say that the Memorandum of Understanding spoke for
itself and it would not be prudent of him to analyse something that
was so clear to everybody. If the understanding of the way in which
the Memorandum was being analysed or interpreted by other people was
different from what it contained, it would not be prudent for him to
say anything about it. "I will just draw your attention to the fact
that in our view, and in the Secretary-General's view, the text and
language of that Memorandum of Understanding speaks for itself."

The correspondent said that Minister Al-Sahaf had characterized the
Secretary-General's position. In that case could the Secretary-General
be asked, as he travelled around Africa, to clarify his position on
the question of access and precisely what it meant? Mr. Brandt said he
had talked to Spokesman Eckhard last night and given him an account of
what had been said at the press conference by the Iraqi delegation.
Mr. Eckhard would look into it. "Hopefully I will have something for
you if Fred comes back to me."

Another correspondent asked whether Under-Secretary-General for
Disarmament Affairs and Head of the Special Group charged with
inspection of the presidential palace sites, Jayantha Dhanapala, could
come down to brief the media. Mr. Brandt said he was to have been
present this morning during a press conference concerning disarmament
but was unable to attend as he was participating in the morning
Cabinet meeting. Mr. Dhanapala had informed officials of his
department that he would be absent and they had been present to brief
the media. But not a single correspondent had showed up and so the
press conference did not take place.


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