October 18, 2009

Iraq to let trade fair exhibitors have Israel links

Oct 17, 2oo9

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraq will no longer require companies wishing to take part in its annual trade fair to boycott Israel, according to a foreign ministry memo obtained by AFP on Saturday.

The ministry distributed the document dated October 7 to foreign embassies and the Baghdad offices of international, diplomats from two countries confirmed.

"The ministry of foreign affairs... has the honor to inform that Paragraph (45) of the Conditions & Instructions of participating in the 36th Session of Baghdad International Fair, implying that the companies willing to participate in the said Fair are bind to present an 'Israel-boycott document', has been called off (sic)," the English-language version of the memo said.

A European diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP that the European Union had in May applied pressure on Iraq to drop the clause, warning that European companies would not attend otherwise.

The ruling relates to the Baghdad International Fair which this year will be held from November 1 to 10 in the Iraqi capital.

Previously, companies which wished to participate in the fair had to sign a document binding them to boycott Israel before their registration was confirmed.

Iraq has no relations with Israel and the country was an implacable foe of the Jewish state under Saddam Hussein's regime, which was overthrown by the US-led invasion in 2003.

A Sunni member of parliament in Baghdad, Mithal Alusi, was suspended from parliament and threatened with charges last year after visiting Israel for a conference. The constitutional court later overturned the decision.

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