Report: Iraqis ask Czechs for arms

Sept. 13, 2004 at 12:20 PM

PRAGUE, Czech Republic, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Senior Iraqi officials have made repeated pleas to the Czech Republic to supply Iraqi soldiers with arms, the Pravo daily newspaper reported Monday.

According to the newspaper, one request was made by Culture Minister Mufid Muhammad Jawad al-Jazayri on a visit to Prague last week. That followed similar pleas, the paper said, in July and August respectively by Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani and Water Resources Minister Abdul-Latif Rashid.

An unnamed Iraqi official, the paper's source, said: "The situation is actually critical. Put up against fully armed terrorists, who have missile launchers and machine guns, we only have Kalashnikovs."

"The Americans actually prevented us from properly equipping ourselves. For example, when the United Arab Emirates sent armored carriers to us, U.S. soldiers in Basra removed the machine guns from them," the official was quoted as saying.

The Czech foreign and defense ministries have not yet commented on the report.

Communist Czechoslovakia had close ties to Saddam Hussein's Iraq when the Soviet bloc as a whole helped the country develop its military and industrial infrastructure.

Now, Czech soldiers are involved in operations to stabilize the country in alliance with the United States.

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