U.N., Iraq to discuss details of inspectors return; U.S. calls to ignore Iraqi move as military buildup continues
On Tuesday, the 15-member U.N. Security Council majority decided, despite a U.S. request for more time, to quickly schedule a meeting, possibly Wednesday, with chief weapons inspector Hans Blix to discuss renewed inspections. The Americans, supported by Britain and Colombia, wanted first to prepare a new resolution, diplomats said.
According to AP, Blix then met with Iraqi representatives, after which the weapons inspection agency said talks on final arrangements for the return of inspectors would take place "and be concluded" at a meeting in Vienna during the week of Sept. 30. Earlier Tuesday, the Iraqis said the talks would be held in 10 days.
Also on Tuesday, The U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan told reporters that Blix "is ready to move as quickly as is practicable." He indicated he didn't believe any formal reauthorization is needed from the Security Council, whose previous resolutions set out specific conditions for their return.
For its part, Washington persisted in condemning Iraq's offer, with President George W. Bush warning the United Nations not to be "fooled".
Bush and other US officials urged the Security Council to pass a resolution handing President Saddam Hussein a tough ultimatum to disarm or face action, presumably military.
Bush said Saddam "has delayed, denied, deceived the world.
"For the sake of liberty and justice for all, the United Nations Security Council must act, must act in a way to hold this regime to account, must not be fooled, must be relevant to keep the peace," Bush said.
On the ground, Pentagon officials said about 2,000 US Marines would go ahead with a planned amphibious landing exercise in Kuwait later this month.
The US Army has two armored brigades in year-round training in Kuwait near the Iraqi border. And two US aircraft carriers, the USS Abraham Lincoln and the USS George Washington, have brought to 20 the number of US navy ships including the Fifth Fleet which is currently positioned in the Gulf region, AFP reported.
The Pentagon also disclosed it had ordered pilots, as they patrol Iraqi skies, to attack command and communications links in Iraq's anti-aircraft system. Additionally, it said it might base B-2 stealth bombers on Britain's Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia; that would halve their normal flight time from U.S. bases to Iraq. And the U.S. Navy said it was trying to contract a commercial ship to move military equipment to the Persian Gulf. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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