Global Policy Forum

Saudis Seize Iraqi Plane, Seek UN Advice

Agence France Press
March 18, 1999

United Nations - Saudi authorities have informed the UN sanctions committee that they have seized an Iraqi plane taking Iraqi pilgrims to Mecca, and are seeking UN advice on the issue. The UN sanctions committee on Thursday sought urgent legal advice from UN legal counsel Hans Corell at a closed-door meeting, after receiving a letter on Wednesday from the Saudi charge d'affaires to the United Nations, Abdulrahman Al-Ahmed.

In the letter, obtained by AFP, he informed the sanctions committee that a first Iraqi plane that flew to Saudi Arabia had been allowed to return to Iraq. However, a second plane which arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Wednesday had been seized. The letter said that the pilgrims on board the plane had been allowed to disembark. However, the Iraqi Airways plane "with its crew consisting of 19, was not allowed to fly back." The letter sought urgent guidance from the committee, saying that "if UN authorities do not assume that responsibility we intend to allow the plane and crew to return to Iraq, unless we receive a response from you in 24 hours from now."

Iraq flew a third plane of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia on Thursday, in apparent violation of UN sanctions. UN resolutions provide for the seizure of assets used in connection with flights which take place without sanctions committee approval.

More Information on the Iraq Sanctions


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