RP CONTINUES TO RECOGNIZE IRAQ ENVOYS -- OPLE

Manila, April 14, 2003 --  The government has not yet severed ties with Iraqi 
diplomats identified with Saddam Hussein's regime, Foreign Affairs 
Secretary Blas Ople said Monday.

"We have not ceased to recognize the diplomatic character of the Iraqi 
Embassy or its officials," Ople said. "They continue to enjoy the 
privileges and immunities accorded them under the Vienna Convention on 
Diplomatic Relations until we receive contrary information from their new 
government."
  Ople said he has not issued any instructions to foreign affairs officials 
to cease all contacts with Iraqi envoys.

"The lines of communication to and from the Iraqi Embassy have never been 
closed. We have not severed ties with Iraq," he said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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