The UN Security Council must spell out its remaining demands of Iraq for a lifting of the decade-old embargo, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said in an interview published on Monday.
"I hope we will be able to tell Iraq at the next round of talks precisely what remains for it to do and what gaps remain" in its disarmament, Annan was quoted by AFP as telling the the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat.
"Iraq must know what it has already done and what remains for it to achieve in the eyes of the Security Council so that the sanctions can be suspended or lifted," the UN chief said.
"We can go forward if we handle the question from this perspective," said Annan, who renewed dialogue with Iraq at the end of February after a break of two years and is to host a new round of talks in New York in mid-April or early May.
Iraq insists on a lifting of sanctions arguing that it has already disarmed in line with UN resolutions.
Annan said that contact was also inevitable between arch-foes Iraq and the United States, which takes a hard line against lifting the UN sanctions in force since Baghdad's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, according to the agency.
"I am sure that sooner or later there will be a dialogue between them," he said. "I am speaking of Iraq and not of a specific (Iraqi) government. Iraq will remain and there will sooner or later be a dialogue between Baghdad and Washington."
On the US- and British-imposed exclusion zones over northern and southern Iraq, Annan distanced himself from the line taken by London and Washington, the agency said.
"I have found nothing in the Security Council resolutions which authorizes in any manner the establishment of the two exclusion zones," Annan said, without condemning the deadly US and British air strikes around Baghdad on February 16.
"As UN secretary general I assume my task as I deem fit, and I don't think that it is up to others to tell me when something must be condemned and when not to do so," he told the London-based daily, responding to Iraqi criticism of his silence.
Meanwhile, head of the group of weapons inspectors dealing with Iraq has reported that despite a lack of cooperation from Baghdad, work is going forward in preparation for future field operations in the country, according to the UN's online news service.
In a report forwarded to the Security Council on Satuday, Hans Blix, the Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), said that "much preparatory work" continues to be done despite Iraq's refusal to accept Security Council resolution 1284 (1999), which established the Commission in 1999.
Since Blix's last report to the Council in December 2000, UNMOVIC has completed the third month-long training course for its staff.
"With the completion of the third training course, UNMOVIC will have a roster of more than 120 persons trained for work in Iraq," Blix wrote in his report.
The report also noted that during the recent meeting of UNMOVIC's College of Commissioners in Vienna, the college was presented with a draft of the UNMOVIC handbook which provides, among other things, guidance for the conduct of inspections in Iraq - Albawaba.com
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