Iraq's Deputy PM Says no to UN Weapons Inspections
Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz said Thursday that Baghdad was categorically opposed to a resumption of UN weapons inspections in Iraq, Interfax reported.
Asked by the news agency whether Iraq would accept such a mission, Aziz responded "no" as he departed Moscow following difficult negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.
However, Aziz added that Baghdad was currently studying a proposal from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to resume negotiations over a possible return of weapons inspectors, Interfax said.
"Baghdad is studying such a proposal," Aziz said, adding that the negotiaions with the United Nations would resume only "when it is convenient" for Baghdad.
"Right now, I have no position on this question," the Iraqi foreign minister said.
Annan has voiced hope that negotiations with Iraq would resume early next year.
UN resolutions have imposed comprehensive sanctions on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in August 1990, and said they would be removed only when Iraq had destroyed all its weapons of mass destruction.
On Wendesday, Russia's Ivanov said that one of Moscow's main foreign policy tasks was to see an end to the sanctions.
Yet, Ivanov and Aziz were forced to cancel a scheduled news conference Wednesday after their meeting went into extra time and finally broke up without comment from either side.
The press conference was abandoned because of "disagreements" between Baghdad and Moscow over whether Iraq should resume cooperation with UN weapons inspectors in order to get sanctions lifted, the Arabic television station al-Jazira reported – MOSCOW (AFP)
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