Aziz: Annan\'s Work Commitments could Delay Iraq-UN Talks until February
Iraq's resumption of dialogue with the United Nations could be delayed until February because of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's work commitments, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz said.
"The fixed date must be agreed upon by the two parties. Annan has other commitments until the end of the current month, which could lead to a delay in dialogue until February," Aziz told journalists in Baghdad.
Aziz, who is expected to head the Iraqi delegation that will speak with the UN in New York, stressed that "this dialogue will go ahead with no preconditions as was agreed".
The two sides decided in November to restore contacts after a year of deadlock. Last December, the UN Security Council passed a resolution offering Iraq a renewable suspension of sanctions in return for cooperation with a new disarmament commission, which would conduct arms inspections.
Iraq has refused to cooperate, saying it has already met UN conditions for the lifting of economic sanctions imposed upon Iraq after its seven-month occupation of Kuwait from 1990 to 1991.
UN arms inspectors were pulled out of Baghdad in December 1998 on the eve of a three-day US-British bombing campaign against Iraq for its refusal to cooperate with a previous disarmament commission.
Iraq's sanctions can only be lifted after the UN has verified that Iraq has dismantled its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs -- BAGHDAD (AFP)
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