Iraqi scientists interviewed as reports indicate U.S. may agree for extention of inspectors work
U.N. weapons inspectors pushed for secret interviews with Iraqi scientists amid growing signs they will win more time, despite US war rhetoric.
Interviews were requested with three Iraqi scientists for Saturday after the United States warned President Saddam Hussein to abandon his alleged refusal to allow them to be questioned in private.
Iraq's foreign ministry said the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had asked to meet the trio, adding that it was encouraging the scientists to comply.
With chief inspectors due to request Monday more time to complete the hunt for weapons of mass destruction, Saturday's New York Times added a new report to the list of expectation that Washington will hold off any invasion for now.
White House officials were considering a delay of up to several weeks before pressing for a UN decision, the daily reported.
At the United Nations, diplomats said Washington was likely to give UN arms inspectors in Iraq another month, in hope of mustering support for a Security Council resolution authorizing war. "At the moment, we have not got the votes," a diplomat told AFP.
"But one month from now, if inspections continue at their current rate and intensity, we could have the votes," he said.
In Athens, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana called for cool heads amid heightening tensions between Europe and the United States over Iraq.
"A rift between the European Union and the United States would be a very, very negative thing, and I hope very much that it won't be introduced," Solana said after talks between the EU and Russia.
For its part, Washington has again upped the war rhetoric. "Saddam Hussein is engaging in a constant pattern now, and an increasing pattern, of defying the inspectors, refusing to cooperate," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.
Saddam was "making the end of the line come even closer by his unacceptable behavior," he said. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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