CEOL - Yugoslavia And Iraq Vow To Resist Western Siege

BAGHDAD, Nov 9, 1999 -- (Reuters) Iraq and Yugoslavia, both internationally isolated and under sanctions, pledged to work together to resist the United States and its Western allies.

"Iraq and Yugoslavia have to work together...against the aggression which is still continuing," Monday's Baghdad press quoted Yugoslav Foreign Trade Minister Borislav Vukovic as saying during a meeting with President Saddam Hussein.

Baghdad has rolled out the red carpet for Vukovic and Yugoslav deputy prime minister Maja Gojkovic. They are visiting the Arab state to strike trade contracts under Baghdad's oil-for-food deal with the United Nations.

Vukovic was the only official received by President Saddam Hussein among several visitors from other countries attending the current international Baghdad trade fair.

The Iraqi News Agency INA quoting Vukovic as telling Saddam during the meeting on Sunday that Iraq and Yugoslavia should work together in order to end international sanctions on their respective countries.

Both Iraq and Yugoslavia suffer sanctions, Baghdad because of the 1990 invasion of Kuwait and Belgrade over its role in a series of Balkan wars over the past decade.

INA said Vukovic delivered to Saddam a message from Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic "on bilateral relations and means to develop them".

"We are with you... and both Baghdad and Belgrade are fighting imperialism," Saddam said in a clear reference to the United States and its Western allies.

Parallels were drawn between the Yugoslav crisis and Iraq's own confrontations with the United States. "In their aggression against Iraq and Yugoslavia, the aggressors have used the same tactics," Saddam told the Yugoslav visitor.

U.S.-led multinational forces drove Iraqi troops out of Kuwait in 1991. In December last year the United States and Britain unleashed a four-day-long air campaign against Iraq over weapons inspections, similar to NATO bombings of Yugoslavia.

Baghdad newspapers quoted Iraq's Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan as saying the bombing of Iraq and air strikes against Yugoslavia were intended to impose control of the two countries.

The papers said Ramadan made the remark while receiving Gojkovic.

On Sunday, INA said Iraq and Yugoslavia started trade talks to cement economic cooperation.

Many Yugoslav firms were involved in industrial and construction projects in Iraq before its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Earlier this year the Belgrade press said Yugoslavia had signed contracts with Iraq worth $18 million to supply food in exchange for oil.

"The Iraqi market is open wide for Yugoslav companies to resume business in Iraq," the Iraqi press quoted Saleh as saying.

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