Aziz tells Annan Iraq ready to cooperate with U.N.; Saddam accuses U.S. of seeking to “control” Gulf region oil
Iraq is ready to cooperate with the United Nations to find a comprehensive solution to the country's crisis with the United States, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz said on Tuesday.
"As I told the (U.N.) Secretary General, if anybody can have a magic solution, so that all these issues are being dealt with together, equitably and reasonably, we are ready to find such a solution and we are ready to cooperate with the United Nations," Aziz said after a half-hour meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Johannesburg.
Before the meeting, Aziz said "We would consider this issue (the inspectors) within the context that I mentioned, with the comprehensive settlement."
On Monday, Iraq’s President, Saddam Hussein, accused the United States on Monday of seeking to "control" the oil of the Gulf region, which sits on the world's largest crude reserves.
"The United States imagines that it will be able to control the whole world if it manages to control the oil of the Middle East," he was quoted as saying by the official INA news agency.
"The United States believes it will control the oil of the Middle East (region) ... which sits on 65 percent of world reserves, if it destroys Iraq," the Iraqi ruler conveyed.
Iraq also said on Monday it was ready to discuss a conditional return of U.N. arms inspectors, but the White House dismissed the suggestion as yet another policy switch by Baghdad.
"Iraq changes positions on whether it will let the inspectors in more often than Saddam Hussein changes bunkers," President Bush's spokesman, Ari Fleischer, told reporters.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri on Monday held talks in Moscow with his Russian counterpart, Igor Ivanov. Russia has echoed Baghdad's demands for a diplomatic settlement and spoken forcefully against unilateral action.
"Any forceful solution regarding Iraq would not only complicate regulation of (the crisis surrounding) Iraq still further, but would also undermine the situation in the Persian Gulf and Middle East," Ivanov said after the talks.
"We hope ... that this question will not be placed to the (United Nations) Security Council, thereby necessitating the veto of Russia," he said. Ivanov also reiterated that Russia wants weapons inspectors to return to Iraq. (Albawaba.com)
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