NICOSIA, CYPRUS — IRAQ rejected the idea of a United Nations safe haven in northern Iraq for Kurdish refugees Tuesday and said it would use ``all means'' to block such a move. ``The proposal to set up a zone under United Nations supervision inside Iraq to deal with the so-called refugee problem is a suspicious proposal that Iraq categorically rejects and will resist it with all means,'' Iraqi Prime Minister Saadoun Hammadi said.
The Turkish plan, proposed to the UN by Britain, was gaining support from the United States and others in the Security Council.
Sadako Ogata, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said Tuesday that she backed the idea of setting up a safe haven for Kurdish refugees. Ms. Ogata said she would support the idea as long as the right of Kurds to seek asylum in other countries was not compromised. ``We favor a safe haven, although we have some uneasiness because these things should not prevent the right of people to seek asylum,'' she said.
Specifically, Kurds should not be stopped from leaving a safe haven to seek asylum in another country, she said.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Thomas Pickering, said he also backed the plan, although UN Secretary-General Javier P'erez de Cu'ellar expressed reservations about it because of the problem of national sovereignty.
The United States, which has repeatedly vowed not to be drawn into Iraq's internal disorder, has not fully endorsed the idea of a UN zone but has warned Iraq not to obstruct relief efforts. ``We do not propose armed intervention in a civil war, but we will not tolerate any interference of our humanitarian relief efforts,'' Secretary of State James Baker III said.
Iran says about 770,000 Iraqis had crossed its border, and Turkey claims to have 400,000 Iraqi Kurds on its soil.