Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Friday, April 11, 2003

Compassionate Russia has denied requests to forgive Iraq's debt.

Russian lawmakers on Friday rejected a senior U.S. official's suggestion that Russia, France and Germany forgive debts to postwar Iraq to help the country restore its battered economy.
U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday that he hoped the countries would consider writing off some or all of their debts to Iraq's new government.

"I hope ... they will think about the very large debts that come from money that was lent to the dictator to buy weapons and to build palaces and to building instruments of repression," Wolfowitz said. "I think they ought to consider whether it might not be appropriate to forgive some or all of that debt so the new Iraqi government isn't burdened with it."

Gennady Seleznyov, speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament, criticized the U.S. call for debt forgiveness, saying it was up to Iraq, not the United States, to negotiate its obligations.

"Iraq is not the 51st state of America," Seleznyov said in comments broadcast on Russia's Channel One. "All debt issues will be resolved only with the lawful government of Iraq."

Vladislav Reznik, a leading pro-Kremlin lawmaker, agreed, saying Russia would not discuss the issue "with the occupation forces," according to the Interfax news agency.

Russia is owed at least US$7 billion in Soviet-era debt by Baghdad. It is also seeking to protect lucrative contracts signed by Russian companies to develop Iraq's oil industry.

Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov accused the U.S. of taking revenge on countries that did not support its position on Iraq.

"The Americans acted in a barbaric way, unleashing aggression on Iraq, and they are behaving in the same boorish way against countries that opposed U.S. actions," Zyuganov said in a statement.

But forgiving the crushing debt on loans that were used to arm the Saddamite regime is in no way barbaric or aggressive, eh Gennady?

< email | 4/11/2003 11:47:00 AM | link

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