Iraq, U.N. to resume talks next month; U.S. says Iraqi calls to cut oil exports - “cynical maneuver”
Iraq and the United Nations have rescheduled their talks on the return of arms inspectors to Baghdad for May 1 to 3, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
The discussions between U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri had been planned for last week, but Baghdad canceled them, saying it did not want "to detract" from the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. The two delegations last spoke on March 7.
According to Reuters, diplomats said Annan was awaiting confirmation of a possible Washington meeting of the "quartet," a Middle East policy coordinating group that includes the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union.
Annan’s spokesman said the goal of the U.N.-Iraq talks "is for Iraq to come into full compliance with Security Council resolutions." That meant "allowing U.N. inspectors to go back to Iraq to finish the verification of disarmament, in terms of weapons of mass destruction," he said.
Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department on Tuesday dismissed as a “cynical maneuver” Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's call for other Arab states to cut their oil exports by half.
"Major oil producers have already rejected this cynical call by Iraq ... and indicated their willingness to make up any shortfall, and as we've seen in the past, markets adjust," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.
Boucher said Iraq's refusal to export oil "reduces the money available to buy civilian goods by more than dlrs 1 billion" and show's Saddam's "willingness to exploit his own people for the sake of some perceived influence or power." (Albawaba.com)
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