Moscow has welcomed the adoption by the United Nations Security Council of Resolution 1382 extending the U.N. humanitarian programme for Iraq for another 180-day period, until May 30, 2002. The resolution ensures further uninterrupted fulfilment of this programme, which is intended to alleviate the burden of ten-year-long sanctions against Iraq for the Iraqi population, and continuation of Russian companies' active participation in it, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said. The resolution confirmed that the U.N. humanitarian programme is only a temporary measure, he went on. Radical improvement of the social and economic situation in Iraq requires investments in the restoration of vital economic facilities and infrastructure in that country. Russia intends to consistently work for the removal of artificial barriers to supplies to Iraq of goods, equipment and services required for that. It is from these positions that Moscow will work, together with other Security Council members, in the following six months on the Goods Review List, orienting itself to a final result that would help restore civilian sectors of the Iraqi economy. The spokesman said it was of paramount importance that the resolution pointed to the need to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the Iraqi problem on the basis of the relevant resolutions of the Security Council. The Russian leadership has repeatedly emphasised that such settlement is possible only if international monitoring is launched in Iraq to verify non-resumption of Iraqi programmes for developing weapons of mass destruction, and if the economic sanctions against Iraq are suspended and later lifted. Moscow is convinced that active efforts by the Security Council in this field, combined with resumption of constructive cooperation between Iraq and the United Nations, would help find a long-term solution that would meet the interests of the Iraqi people and its trade and economic partners and the objective of ensuring stability in the Gulf region.
Several years ago, a prominent Indonesian businessman who now resides in Canada, insisted on meeting me in a back room of one of Jakarta's posh restaurants. An avid reader of mine, he 'had something urgent to tell me', after finding out that our paths were going to be crossing in this destroyed and hopelessly polluted Indonesian capital.