US warplanes strike in northern Iraq as U.N.-Iraq dialogue resumes
US warplanes struck Iraqi air defenses sites in northern Iraq after coalition aircraft came under anti-aircraft artillery fire, the US military said.
The US European Command said coalition aircraft patrolling the no-fly zone over northern Iraq were fired from anti-aircraft artillery sites near the Saddam Dam.
"Coalition aircraft responded to the Iraqi attacks by dropping precision guided ordnance on elements of the Iraqi integrated air defense system," the command said. At least four Iraqis were injured.
Meanwhile, Iraq said a new round of talks with the United Nations got off to a good start Wednesday. Getting inspectors back into Iraq after more than three years is a key demand of the U.N. Security Council and especially the United States, which has accused Iraq of trying to rebuild its banned weapons programs and of supporting terrorism.
The talks began Wednesday with a tete-a-tete between U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri and was followed by two meetings with larger delegations. Technical experts from both sides are expected to meet Thursday and Annan and Sabri will hold final sessions on Friday.
"It went well," Sabri told reporters after Wednesday's first meeting. Asked about progress on the return of inspectors as left U.N. headquarters after Wednesday afternoon's meeting that lasted less than 1 1/2 hours, Sabri said: "We're discussing all the issues related to the issue of the Iraq-U.N. relationship."
According to AP, Iraqi diplomats on Sabri's team said privately that they hope to reach a "comprehensive" agreement with the United Nations, but there may be a need for another round of talks. (Albawaba.com)
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