Fred Eckhard, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, began today's noon briefing by announcing that two reports on Iraq had been issued today. The first had been the 180-day report of the Secretary-General on the "oil-for- food" programme, in which he had concluded that the low price of oil had caused a significant shortfall in funding, amounting to approximately $1 billion less for the humanitarian programme than envisaged in the distribution plan. The Secretary-General had also highlighted the situation of children, noting there had been an improvement in the three northern governorates, but that in the remainder of the country, while child malnutrition was no longer getting worse, it remained a grave concern.
In that 180-day report, Mr. Eckhard said the Secretary-General had also reminded the Council of his April report in which the state of Iraq's oil industry had been described as "lamentable", stating that he now hoped for an expediting of the approval of contracts for spare parts and equipment. The Secretary-General's ultimate conclusion had been that "bearing in mind the magnitude of the humanitarian situation in Iraq, I recommend that the Security Council extend the relevant provisions of resolution 1153 (1998) for a further 180-day period.
The other document issued today, Mr. Eckhard continued, had been a letter from the Foreign Minister of Iraq to the President of the Security Council. In his letter, Minister Mohammed Said Al-Sahaf had asked the Council to extend for two months the period of the authorization to export oil, saying that would enable Iraq to reach the $5.265 billion authorized by the Council in resolution 1153 and to fulfil the distribution plan approved by the Secretary-General.
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