Iraq presents new documents to chief weapons inspectors; Russia backs Franco-German plan to avert war
Iraq handed over more documents to chief weapons inspectors during a second round of crucial disarmament talks in Baghdad on Sunday, a U.N. source said.
Hans Blix, the U.N. chief inspector, and Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, met for 2-1/2 hours of talks with an Iraqi monitoring team led by presidential adviser, Amer al-Saadi.
Iraqi officials said Blix and ElBaradei met with Iraq's Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan after concluding the second round of talks with Iraqi arms experts.
Blix and ElBaradei were handed documents relating to the nuclear field, a U.N. source said, adding that discussions focused on chemical and biological weapons. "The discussions were very detailed," the source said, according to Reuters. He said documents would be assessed in coming days. "It is too early to judge" the significance of the documents, he added.
Blix and ElBaradei are to leave Baghdad early on Monday.
Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said on Sunday Moscow would back a Franco-German plan to try to avert war in Iraq by reinforcing arms inspections if it was put to the U.N. Security Council.
Ivanov, speaking in Germany, said that if U.N. arms inspections were bolstered a team of Russian experts could go to Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction and Russia could offer reconnaissance planes.
He told a news conference that if the Security Council discussed the Franco-German plan "I have no doubt that Russia will adhere to it." Ivanov said he could not pre-empt a meeting between German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Russian President Vladimir Putin later in the day, and added that Russia was keen to hear back from U.N. chief weapons inspectors on Friday.
"We have to wait for this report to be finalized as to whether they need more time," he said.
German Defense Minister Peter Struck confirmed on Sunday that Berlin and Paris would present their joint plan to the Security Council and said he hoped it would be "taken up positively" next Friday. (Albawaba.com)
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