YU, Iraq slam sanctions as war on progress

BELGRADE, May 12, 2000 -- (Reuters) Yugoslavia and Iraq, allies who share experience of air strikes and embargoes, jointly condemned such actions as a war against progress on Thursday.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Said al-Sahaf, on an official visit to Yugoslavia, said the United States, NATO and Israel were waging "a war for oil, and against progress and unity of countries of the region" against his country, the state news agency Tanjug reported on Thursday.

"The political function of the aggression and the continued punishment of Iraq is to frighten developing countries that see their role outside United States' hegemony," Sahaf said.

Relations between Belgrade and Baghdad improved markedly in recent years as both countries faced international sanctions and air strikes.

To show solidarity against the United States and its allies, Baghdad condemned NATO air strikes last year to halt Yugoslavia's oppression of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

Belgrade has criticized U.S. and British air strikes on Iraq and continued sanctions against the country.

The two sides signed a economic and oil cooperation accord in November and formed a joint commission to boost ties.

Sahaf said that cooperation, especially through international and regional organizations, would secure more support from developing countries for lifting sanctions against Yugoslavia and Iraq.

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