Malaysia questions Iraq "no-fly zones"

UNITED NATIONS: Jan 31 (South News) - The Security Council on Friday for the first time discussed a rash of incidents over Iraq's no-fly zones after Malaysia questioned the zones' legality.

Malaysian Ambassador Hasmy Agam said that he had been instructed by his government to mention the recent incidents in the "so-called no-fly zones" that he said had been "arbitrarily" imposed and "run counter to the UN charter."

Russia and China made statements in support of Malaysia, a non-permanent council member, whose position also was supported by Bahrain, the diplomats said.

Although the UN Security Council did not establish the air exclusion zones, London and Washington are patrolling the no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq. Washington announced on Wednesday that US air forces had broadened their attacks on Iraqi air defences under expanded rules of engagement.

Hasmy noted that 11 civilians were killed Monday when a US missile crashed into the town of Al-Jumhuriya, near the southern city of Basra.

Last year Malaysia condemned the unilateral military strikes against Iraq launched by the United States saying this violated the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes and the Charter of the United Nations.

In a press statement isssued on Dec 17, Malaysia counseled dialogue and consultation   to maintain the credibility of the United Nations. "The unilateral US action on Iraq sets a dangerous precedent and Malaysia urges member countries of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) to oppose in the strongest manner this unilateral action by the United States of America", it said.

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