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Iraq reverses decision to boycott Polish goods

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March 1, 2001 


BAGHDAD-(AP) - Iraq has reversed a decision to boycott Polish goods after Poland officially said it did not support recent U.S.-British airstrikes on the outskirts of Baghdad, Iraq's trade minister said Wednesday.

Mohammed Mehdi Saleh said trade between the two countries will return to levels preceding the Feb. 16 attack. Saleh's remarks were carried by the official Iraqi News Agency.

A few days following the airstrike, the heaviest around Baghdad since December 1998, Iraq announced it would boycott products from Canada and Poland because they supported the attack.

Iraq's decision was based on remarks made by Jerzy Marek Nowakowski when he was still top foreign policy adviser to Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek. Nowakowski said the strikes were a "resolute gesture of the new U.S. administration" and that there is "no reason for us not to have understanding for the action," according to Poland's PAP news agency.

But he stressed he was speaking only as an analyst and that an official statement could be made only by the Foreign Ministry.

He resigned a few days after he made his remarks.

Poland's Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski has said the row over Nowakowski's remarks was a misunderstanding he hoped would be cleared up.

Saleh said Wednesday that Poland has "rectified its position regarding the aggression."

"As a result of the official Polish clarification of its stand, Iraq has decided to restore the situation to pre-attack levels," Saleh said.

Latest official Polish figures show that during the first nine months of 2000, Polish exports to Iraq were worth dlrs 327,000. The trade is conducted under the U.N. oil-for-food program which allows Iraq to export oil so long as the revenue is used to buy food and essential items.

A Polish diplomat runs an interest section in Baghdad for the United States, which severed relations with Iraq shortly before the 1991 Gulf War over Kuwait.

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