Thursday, May 29, 2003
U.S. Discourages Foreign Missions in Iraq
By Associated Press
May 29, 2003, 4:31 PM EDT
WASHINGTON -- The State Department said Thursday it is discouraging foreign governments from sending diplomats to Iraq because the absence of an Iraqi government means normal protections are not available.
Under international rules, diplomats are immune from prosecution by the host government.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the United States, as the controlling authority in Iraq, "reserves the right to exclude people who we don't think belong there."
Boucher spoke hours after Palestinian officials in Baghdad said U.S. troops raided the Palestinian mission in that city and arrested 11 people, including the mission's top representative. The official U.S. figure was eight arrests.
The Palestinian official said the U.S. troops ransacked the building, taking water bottles and food cans.
Boucher said there are diplomats in Iraq who were previously accredited to Saddam Hussein's government and who have remained at their posts.
"We do not regard those as diplomatic missions. They're accredited to a regime that is no longer existent and therefore their accreditation would have lapsed," Boucher said.
He added that the United States does welcome foreign diplomats who are in Iraq to help in reconstruction.
Copyright (c) 2003, The Associated Press
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