Mideast States Say U.S. Has No Right to
Iraq Oil |
19, 2003 04:14 AM ET
By Andrew Hammond
RIYADH (Reuters) - Iraq's neighbors said on Saturday
U.S.-led forces that invaded the country had no right to
exploit its oil and should pull out as soon as possible,
giving the United Nations a central postwar role.
A meeting of Iraq's immediate neighbors as well as Egypt
and Bahrain said U.S. forces had to reestablish stability and
security after their invasion, but should leave as soon as
possible and allow Iraqis to form their own government.
"(The ministers) affirmed that the Iraqi people should
administer and govern their country by themselves, and any
exploitation of their natural resources should be in
conformity with the will of the legitimate Iraqi government
and its people," they said in a joint statement read by Saudi
Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal.
"If what they (the occupying forces) intend is the
exploitation of Iraqi oil, it will not have any legitimate
basis," Faisal told a news conference after the talks in the
He also said U.N. sanctions on Iraq should end only when it
has a legitimate government.
"Now Iraq is under an occupying power and any request for
lifting sanctions must come when there is a legitimate
government which represents the people," he told reporters
after the discussions on the regional implications of the
crushing U.S. military victory.
The talks included the foreign ministers of Turkey, Iran,
Kuwait, Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Bahrain.
The United States wants a quick end to the U.N. sanctions,
imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. The United States
wants to boost Iraqi oil output and revenues which would be
used to help pay for reconstruction.
Iraq has the world's second largest proven oil reserves and
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are concerned their revenues might be
hit if its oil is once again sold on the open market, rather
under the control of the U.N. sanctions regime.
The regional states called for a central U.N. role in
postwar Iraq, but the United States is reluctant to give it a
say in Iraq's political future.
Asked if the eight countries planned to play a role in
shaping a new Iraq, Faisal said: "We will not permit ourselves
to interfere in its (Iraq's) internal affairs."
He said U.S.-led forces must reestablish order.
"Going out in the streets is dangerous and houses are being
looted. These things must stop so that the Iraqis can work
together to set up systems and administrations that express
their will and needs throughout Iraq."
Barring Syria and Iran, all participants at the meeting are
U.S. allies that offered some form of support for the
invasion. But they all fear the United States will install a
puppet government regime in Iraq that would ally itself with
Middle Eastern nations are determined to avoid a break-up
of Iraq along potentially destabilizing ethnic and sectarian
Asked about investing in Iraq, Faisal said: "Until there is
an Iraqi government, I don't think anyone will think about
The regional forum, the first since the war ended, also
rejected U.S. charges that Syria was sheltering some of Saddam
Hussein's aides and developing chemical weapons. Syria denies