- The Washington Times - Friday, March 28, 2003

WASHINGTON, March 28 (UPI) — President George W. Bush was pleased with a U.N. Security Council vote Friday to resume the Iraq's oil-for-food program, the White House said.

"This will be a way to help take care of the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people using Iraqi resources. The president is pleased with this outcome," said White House press secretary Ari Fleischer.

After a meeting at Camp David Thursday, Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair had urged the United Nations to restart the program. U.S. officials had been concerned that nations on the Security Council who had opposed the war would block resumption of the aid program.

The Security Council voted unanimously to restart the program. The agreement also gives U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan more authority to administer the operation for the next 45 days.

The Iraqi oil-for-food program has provided $25 billion in humanitarian supplies since 1996 despite what U.S. officials call Iraqi government subversion, with another $10 billion in the pipeline, according to the U.S. Department of State.

Russia, France and China, all permanent members of the Security Council, were staunchly opposed to the war, wanting instead to continue weapons inspections. Germany, which also sits on the council but is not a permanent member, was also against the U.S.-led attack.

The United Nations halted the program when the bombing campaign in Iraq began more than a week ago. Annan had said he was concerned by the casualties in the conflict, adding that it was Washington's responsibility to provide humanitarian aid to civilians in areas controlled by the coalition.

"More than half the Iraqi people depend on this program as their sole source of food," Bush said Thursday after his meeting with Blair.


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