Iraqi delegation visits Serbia for planes
An Iraqi military delegation visited Serbia to negotiate the takeover of 19 Russian fighter planes sent by the former Iraqi regime to former Yugoslavia for repair, it was stated on Aug. 29 by Iraqi Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesman Mohammed alAskari. "Defense Ministry Advisor Gen. Otman alFregi and Iraqi Airforce Chief Anvar Mohammad Amin are currently negotiating in Serbia on the repair and prompt return of the 19 MIG21 and MIG23 planes," AlAskari said. He stated that the planes "were sent to be repaired in 1989 by Saddam Hussein's regime, and that everything is paid for by Iraqi money." He underlined the significance of the planes, as the Iraqi aviation only has helicopters at the moment. AlAskari said that the Iraqi Defense Ministry "is conducting investigations in the U.S., France, Italy and Russia, as well as some Arab countries, in order to find funds or equipment bought by the former regime for its army." Military analyst Aleksandar Radic stated that Serbia has to accept talks about the fate of the Iraqi airplanes type MIG21 and MIG23, and that it is time to resolve the status of the aircraft which had arrived to the former Yugoslavia to be repaired two decades ago, remaining there due to the wars in both countries. Radic told BETA that the planes do not belong to Serbia, but Iraq, and that the Serbian Army has no need for them, as it has not used them so far. The solution to the issue would be useful from the aspect of Serbia's ambitions to continue a successful cooperation in the area of arms and military equipment export into Iraq, he stated.