- The Washington Times - Monday, March 24, 2003

NEW YORK Iraq's mission to the United Nations has cashed in its assets in anticipation of being forced to shut down operations or leave the country, Ambassador Mohammed Aldouri said over the weekend.
The United States expelled the staff of the Iraq interests section in Washington late last week, and Mr. Aldouri, Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, said in an interview from his home that he expects his mission to receive similar treatment.
He said he has all but abandoned plans he announced earlier to fight the coalition invasion in the U.N. Security Council or even the General Assembly.
Mr. Aldouri said he ordered the liquidation following Treasury department action last week to seize all Iraqi non-diplomatic assets here.
"We have cashed in all our assets; we did so this week," Mr. Aldouri said.
While phone lines to Iraq's U.N. mission on East 79th St. still remain up, the staff no longer answers calls, and various Web sites belonging to the Iraqi government are no longer accessible.
The mission's main Web site was taken down, Mr. Aldouri said, because "we just don't have the money for it now."
Also last week, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan quietly ordered the closure of the Iraqi News Agency's U.N. office.
U.N. workers tore out phone lines and confiscated furniture belonging to the news agency, and even the name plaque posted outside the office disappeared.
The State Department has also urged nations around the world to break off diplomatic relations with the Saddam Hussein government and expel its diplomats. Response has been mixed.
Italy yesterday expelled two Iraqi diplomats and two mission employees but stopped short of severing ties. It gave no reason for its action, and it allowed the head of the Iraqi mission to remain in the country.
Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said he would give a full account to parliament today.
Australia followed Washington's example last week by giving Iraqi diplomats accredited to Canberra five days to leave the country.
Jordan yesterday became the first Arab country to go along even in part with the U.S. demand, expelling five Iraqi diplomats but leaving 35 other embassy employees in Amman.
But France, which stubbornly opposed the war in the diplomatic struggle that led up to it, has rejected the move.
Germany last week expelled four diplomats for activities incompatible with their status a euphemism for spying but a Foreign Ministry spokesman said breaking off ties with Baghdad was not on its agenda.
Other countries, including several U.S. allies, that refused or have not acted on the U.S. request include Spain, Bulgaria, Portugal, Russia, Greece, Pakistan, Poland, Brazil, Yemen and Kenya.

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