The Bush administration reacted with rage Sunday night to a Franco-German proposal to extend arms inspections in Iraq. Colin Powell, the US secretary of state, called on Paris and Berlin to study the UN resolution which they had backed. "What France has to do and what I think Germany has to do ... is read 1441 again."
The Franco-German plan, revealed at the weekend by a German magazine, would triple the number of UN weapons inspectors and back them up with surveillance flights. One unconfirmed report said thousands of UN troops would be sent into Iraq to support the inspectors.
Berlin declared it would put the joint plan before the security council on Friday, just hours after the chief weapons inspector, Dr. Hans Blix, is to present his crucial report.
Colin Powell dismissed the initiative: "I don't think the next step should be 'Let's send in more inspectors to be stiffed' [deceived]. Tripling the number of inspectors doesn't deal with the issue. This idea of more inspectors, or no-fly zones, or whatever else may be in this proposal that is being developed is a diversion, not a solution."
"We know what the Iraqis are trying to do. They are just trying to string this out, hoping that it will just go away," he said.
Russia has also backed an extension of time for the UN weapons inspectors. Speaking after a meeting with German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, Russian President Vladimir Putin said: "We are convinced that efforts for a peaceful resolution of the situation regarding Iraq should be persistently continued."
Meanwhile, the chief United Nations weapons inspectors left Baghdad on Monday after a weekend of talks which they said had produced encouraging responses from Iraq.
Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei held two days of talks with Iraqi officials. "Well, as I said yesterday, we leave with a sense of cautious optimism as I hope we will have concrete action in the next three days," ElBaradei told Reuters on Monday before leaving Baghdad. (Albawaba.com)
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