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I. CABINET REJECTS UNSC STATEMENT, REITERATES MAY 1 LETTER, INA, MAY 17 II. NAT'L ASSEMBLY SPEAKER: IRAQ WILL TAKE ACTION, INA MAY 18 III.NAT'L ASSEMBLY MARKS 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF USURPATION, IRAQ TV, MAY 16 IV. AZIZ VISIT TO PARIS "IMPORTANT BREAKTHROUGH," LIBERATION, MAY 13 V. IRAQ WANTS TO BUY TELECOMMUNICATIONS EQPT UNDER 986, REUTERS, MAY 19 The full text of the May 17 Iraqi cabinet statement, which constituted Iraq's reply to the UNSC's statement on its nuclear program and which reiterated Iraq's May 1 "open letter" to the UNSC, was reported by INA. In contrast to the belligerency of the May 1 letter, the cabinet statement said simply, "The Council of Ministers took cognizance of the statement issued by the president of the UN Security Council on 14 May 1998 on the plan to move the activity of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Iraq to the stage of permanent monitoring in July [ED: there is no such commitment; the issue is only to be considered in July.] The Council of Ministers has found that this statement does not meet the minimum level of Iraq's rights following the immense sacrifices it has made. Iraq is still waiting in accordance with the concepts included in the open letter it addressed to the UNSC on 1 May 1998." The statement then detailed the rest of the Cabinet's rather ordinary agenda that day. On May 18, INA, summarizing an interview the speaker of Iraq's Nat'l Assembly had given to an Egyptian paper, reported that he had said that "Iraq is considering all the possible measures and steps to confront the perpetuation of the unjust embargo and Iraq will not let the issue go by without taking any action." On May 16, Iraq's National Assembly issued a statement on "the 50th anniversary of the usurpation of Palestine." It said, "All the Arabs should turn 15 May into a starting point to escalate their struggle, upgrade the official and popular Arab stands to the level of fateful struggle against the Zionist entity . . . and reject the Zionist-US hegemony and the so-called new world order, which fragmented the world and imposed blockades on the Arab nation's countries in Iraq, Libya, and Sudan, as part of the plan in support of the Zionist entity . . . " On the diplomatic front, Tariq Aziz visited Paris, May 10 to 17. As the French paper, Liberation, May 13 explained, "It is by the scale of Tariq Aziz' visit to Paris that the diplomatic benefits which Baghdad has derived from the last Gulf crisis are to be measured. . . . As the highlight of the visit, he will meet Thursday morning with Jacques Chirac. . . The fact that the Iraqi deputy prime minister is meeting with the French president for the first time gives his visit particular significance. Chirac certainly received Iraqi Foreign Minister Muhammad al-Sahhaf during the last crisis, but that was in an emergency. . . . Diplomatic relations, severed at Iraq's initiative during the Gulf crisis, have constantly improved over the past few years. If we take into account just the French interests section in Baghdad, set up in 1995, this now looks like an embassy, which lacks only an ambassador." Aziz left Paris for Rome May 17, where he met Pope John Paul and top Roman Cahtolic officials and "found a sympathetic ear," according to Reuters. Meanwhile, Iraq's Foreign Minister visited Gambia and Kenya, both on the UNSC, as well as Tunisia. Regarding UNSCR 986, up for renewal in early June, a US effort to have it extended for 18 months, rather than six, was rebuffed, while Iraq rejected a UN suggestion that it use the much increased revenues it will receive under the new plan to raise the calorie content of food rations, as Reuters reported. Instead, among the things Iraq wants to buy are telecommunications equipment and spare parts for its oil industry. I. CABINET REJECTS UNSC STATEMENT Baghdad, INA in Arabic 1647 GMT 17 May 98 [FBIS Translated Text] Baghdad, 17 May (INA)~-The Council of Ministers took cognizance of the statement issued by the president of. the UN Security Council (UNSC) on 14 May 1998 on the plan to move the activity of the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] in Iraq to the stage of permanent monitoring in July. The Council of Ministers has found out that this statement does not meet the minimum level of Iraq's rights following the immense sacrifices it has made. Iraq is still waiting in accordance with the concepts included in the open letter it addressed to the UNSC on 1 May 1998 During its 15th session, chaired by President Saddam Husayn, the council discussed several issues, including the issue of securing drinking water to citizens in some governorates. The president said: When we talk about our people's health, our talk should not be linked to economic factors Even in the economic aspect, we should start with the people's health, beginning with water, not medicine. This is because fresh drinking water and health awareness can reduce disease. His excellency instructed the council's industrial committee to discuss the building of drinking water complexes today and to submit the results of its discussion to the Council. INA has learned that the industrial committee met today and submitted its recommendations on this issue to the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers also discussed the issue of handling revenues generated from votive offerings at holy shrines. It approved doubling the share of workers at holy shrines, the share allocated for maintaining the shrine, and the share of the poor. The Council of Ministers reviewed the assessment of a state enterprise, which is affiliated with one of the ministries and which committed legal and administrative violations, something which reflected on the administrative and financial situation of this enterprise. The Council of Ministers discussed two options: dissolving the enterprise in accordance with the principle of dissolving failing enterprises, or giving it a chance in accordance with specific conditions. The council adopted the second alternative. The Council of Ministers studied a report by the Industry and Minerals Ministry on the state of the sugar industry in Iraq. The council discussed the report and the idea of adopting a pricing policy with the producers of sugar beet and cane with the aim of encouraging the production of these two products to reflect positively on sugar production in Iraq. The council decided to update and complete the report which seeks to expand the production of sugar in Iraq, as well as to present the report again to the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers reviewed the issue of assigning university professors to government departments during the summer vacation to maintain interaction between know1edge and application, universities and government departments. The council decided to distribute teachers to the government departments which are in harmony with their specialties during the summer vacation. The Council of Ministers followed up the harvest campaign of strategic products, developing poultry production, and facilitating the marketing of these products. It also followed up the production programs for table eggs and gave the necessary instructions to the competent ministers. II. NAT'L ASSEMBLY SPEAKER: IRAQ WILL TAKE ACTION FBIS-NES-98-138 Baghdad INA in Arabic 0712 GMT 18 May 98 Cairo, 18 May, (INA)--Speaker of the Iraqi National Assembly [INA] Sa'dun Hammadi said that President Saddam Husayn's last letter to the Security Council is straightforward and speaks the truth for all states. In a statement to the Egyptian paper al-Siyasi al-Masri, Hammadi said that Iraq is considering all the possible measures and steps to confront the perpetuation of the unjust embargo and Iraq will not let the issue go by without taking any action. He added that Iraq is very much willing to hold immediate dialogue with any party, including the United States, pointing out that it is the latter that refuses to hold such a dialogue. Hammadi affirmed the INA's willingness to hold dialogue with the Kuwaiti Parliament with a view to clearing the air between the two states. Hammadi said Iraq's ties with the Arabian Gulf states are good and that relations with Iran are improving a great deal, in spite of the fact that some issues still need to be resolved, such as the issue of Iraqi prisoners of war in Iran. Sa'dun Hammadi spoke about the abnormal situation in the self- rule area of Kurdistan, which was an upshot of the US and UK interventions. He said: It is the United States, and not the Kurds, that is placing obstacles in the path of finding solutions to the Kurdish affair. Hammadi was referring to US attempts to abort any previous agreement reached between the government and the Kurdish parties. Hammadi said that relations with Egypt were advancing and that positive progress was being made. He urged the Arab states to set up an Arab economic bloc and a common Arab market. The INA speaker criticized the Turkish Government's attitude toward Iraq and the rest of the Arab world. He said that Turkey's negative policy harms the Turkish as well as Arab interests. Speaking about relations with Syria, Hammadi said that the INA is willing to exchange visits by parliamentary delegations with Syria to help enhance bilateral relations. [Description of source: Official news agency of the Iraqi Government] III. NAT'L ASSEMBLY MARKS 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF USURPATION Baghdad Iraq Television Network in Arabic 1700 GMT 16 May 98 [Announcer-read report over video] [FBIS Translated Text] The Iraqi people's representatives have called on the Arab parliamentarians to confront the Zionist-US scheme, which threatens the Arabs, their present and future, and seeks to Judaize holy Jerusalem. In a statement today during the evening session the National Assembly held under Assemb1y speaker Dr. Sa'dun Hammadi on the 50th anniversary of the usurpation of Pa1estine, they said: All the Arabs should turn 15 May into a starting point to escalate their struggle, upgrade the official and popular Arab stands to the level of fateful struggle against the Zionist entity, close ranks, achieve solidarity, and reject the Zionist-US hegemony and the so-called new world order, which fragmented the world and imposed blockades on the Arab nation's countries in Iraq, Libya, and Sudan, as part of the plan in support of the Zionist entity. The statement noted that the massacres perpetrated by the Zionist Occupation gangs throughout 50 years through US and British support are aimed at Judaizing Jerusalem and usurping the Palestinian national and pan~Arab rights. The statement added that these massacres have continued on Jabal Abu Ghunaym and elsewhere in defiance of the whole world. The statement said: The burning of al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969, the massacre at the Ibrahimi Mosque, the killing of Palestinian workers in 'Uyun Qarah [Eishon LeZiyyon], the killing of worshipers at the al-Aqsa Mosque, and the building of settlements constitute a defiance and rejection of the international resolutions. This shows that the United States and Britain seek to entrench the Zionist entity in the heart of the Arab world so as to act as a base for the US-Zionist ambitions in the region, to fragment the Arab nation, and to strike at its base of liberation, which is represented by great Iraq. The assembly also discussed a number of the National Assembly delegations' reports on their recent visits to a number of Arab states.