Iraq Hits out At UN Chief for Delaying Talks
Iraq on Saturday accused UN Secretary General Kofi Annan of caving in to US pressure to delay a new round of talks with Baghdad which had been scheduled to be held by early May, said AFP.
An editorial in the official Al Iraq daily said the dialogue had been called off indefinitely, and alleged this was "a means of procrastinating and evading the issue" of sanctions.
"The political leanings of Kofi Annan over Iraq are, in their current phase, in harmony with those of the United States," the daily said, charging that Washington is trying "to shunt the question of the embargo into a dead-end," AFP cited the paper as saying.
But Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan said the cancellation "does not upset Iraq, which does not expect much from such dialogue."
"We knew this was all tactics," when we agreed to renew the dialogue, he told reporters at the opening of a trade fair in Baghdad.
"But we decided to cooperate with any initiative, regardless of the likely outcome, so that it could not be said that Iraq had missed an opportunity," he said.
The official KUNA news agency reported Friday that a new round of talks might take place in June or later this year.
After a two-year break over Iraqi disarmament, Baghdad, which is battling for an end to crippling sanctions a decade after it invaded Kuwait, resumed a dialogue with the United Nations in New York at the end of February.
Annan proposed a fresh round of talks at the end of April or in early May.
Reports from the United Nations said Annan had asked for greater clarity from the Security Council before the dialogue resumed.
The United Nations is seeking a return of weapons inspectors to Iraq to verify its claims to have destroyed all weapons of mass destruction before recommending that sanctions be lifted – Albawaba.com