US, UK Giants Get
Bulk Of Iraqi Crude


LONDON (Reuters) -- BP, PLC, and Royal Dutch/Shell Group said yesterday they have each won the right to purchase 2 million barrels of Iraqi crude in what industry sources said was the first sale of crude pumped in Iraq since war ended.
BP and Shell plan to load the oil later this month at Mina Al Bakr. BP said it planned to ship its oil to the U.S. while Shell refused to say where it expected to sell its crude.
Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organisation (SOMO) confirmed that U.S energy group ChevronTexaco and Swiss trading firm Taurus also won bids for similar lots of Basra light crude. "We look forward to developing a long-term relationship with SOMO," a Shell spokesman said.
In Pretoria, U.S. President George W. Bush ducked queries over a White House admission that he used flawed intelligence on Iraq's nuclear programme, while insisting he was right to oust Saddam Hussain.
Facing reporters for the first time since the admission early Tuesday that he had overstated Iraq's alleged efforts to procure uranium, Bush said: "There is no doubt in my mind that Saddam was a threat to the world peace and there is no doubt in my mind the U.S. with our allies and friends did the right thing in removing him from power."
"I am absolutely confident in the decision I made," he said at a press appearance with South Africa President Thabo Mbeki.
In Chicago, a 60-year-old Iraqi-born publisher was arrested at his home yesterday and charged with providing information to Saddam's intelligence agency about the deposed leader's foes.
Khaled Abdul Latif Dumeisi, who has been in the U.S. for about 10 years, was described in an affidavit as an "unregistered agent" for the former Iraqi government who reported on Iraqi exile leaders and provided press identification cards for Iraqi intelligence officers.
In one case, it was alleged Dumeisi was trained by Iraqi intelligence to use a pen with a hidden camera and microphone, which he later used to record an interview with an unnamed member of the Iraqi opposition.
Dumeisi was charged with acting as a foreign agent, which carries a maximum 10-year prison term, and conspiracy, which carries a potential five-year term.
In Iraq, the Central Command also announced the seizure of between 400 and 500 rocket-propelled grenades in a vehicle travelling west of Baghdad, whose four Iraqi passengers were arrested.
Despite the big name catches, there was no pause in the attacks on U.S. soldiers which seem to have picked up despite a barrage of U.S. military offensives this past month in central Iraq, the hub of support for Saddam.
Gunmen fired rocket-propelled grenades overnight at U.S. positions in the hotspot town of Fallujah, west of the capital.
U.S. forces also announced the arrest of two top Baathists. Mizban Khadr Al Hadi, former Baath leader, turned himself in on Tuesday.
Ex-interior minister Mahmud Dhiyab Al Ahmad was also captured. Also yesterday, U.S. officials said recruiting for a new army force will begin July 19 in Baghdad, Mosul and Basra.



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