47 Countries take part in Iraq'S Babylon Festival
(ZNAF: Baghdad) More than 47 countries take part in the 10-day Babylon cultural festival which opened on September 22 in sanctions-hit Iraq, according to Information Minister Human Abdel Khaleq. Their participation in the festival bore "witness to the solidarity of several countries with Iraq in its struggle to get the embargo lifted and put a stop to the plots by the US and British administrations, supported by the Saudi and Kuwaiti regimes," he said.
According to the festival organisers, the Arab countries participating include Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.
The annual festival in the historic city of Babylon, some 90 kilometres (55 miles) south of the Iraqi capital, was launched in 1987. Last year, 38 countries took part.
According to a 1999 UNICEF report, one child under 5 years old dies every eight minutes in Iraq from disease and malnutrition. The death toll amounts to more than 5,000 children every month and 1.5 million civilians annually.
In the past two weeks, Russia, France, and Jordan have begun discussing regular
commercial flights to Iraq. This week Syria called for an end to the U.N.
sponsored and U.S.-backed embargo. Iraq is now producing almost 3 million
barrels of oil every day. About 200,000 barrels are sold through black market. At
press time, Neither Al Gore nor George W. Bush have made any comments on
their the future of U.S.-Iraqi relations and the economic sanctions against the
government in Baghdad.
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