Iraq Annan welcomes US decision to release holds 410 humanitarian contracts

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In a statement released by his spokesman, Mr. Annan said he was “encouraged” by the US decision on Friday to release holds placed on 410 applications valued at $703.5 million. The applications related to the agriculture, food handling, education, electricity, health, housing, water and sanitation, and oil sectors. The statement also appealed to all Security Council members to “expedite the approval of applications and spare no effort in lifting the remaining holds placed on applications.”As of the end of May, 1,651 applications valued at $3.7 billion were on hold, according to the statement.”The Secretary-General has repeatedly expressed his grave concern regarding the unacceptably high level of holds placed on applications for contracts submitted under the humanitarian programme for Iraq” – known as the oil-for-food programme – “and has called on the members of the Council to reduce the level of holds drastically,” the statement said.

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