WASHINGTON, May 6 (UPI) -- U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said Thursday that congressional probes into the U.N.'s Iraqi oil-for-food program would continue.
Congress, Hastert said, would continue to probe allegations that more than $10 billion was diverted from the U.N.'s Iraqi oil-for-food program into Hussein's coffers, a portion of which may have then been used to provide what Hastert called, "kickbacks in exchange for political cover from politicians in countries like France and Russia."
"There seems to be a correlation between this sweet heart deal and opposition to Operation Iraqi Freedom," Hastert said.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has authorized an "independent high level inquiry" into the charges.
"I hope the U.N. conducts a thorough investigation because they have a responsibility to the Iraqi people and the world community to answer these charges," Hastert said in a radio actuality released by his office.
The U.N. Security Council created the oil for food program in December 1996 to permit the sale of Iraqi oil in exchange for humanitarian relief for the Iraqi people.