Iraq's unexpected move to allow United Nations arms inspectors to return to the country without conditions was greeted with a mixture of skepticism and relief around the world. In Baghdad, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz said "The excuse used to launch an aggression has been totally blocked."
"The issue does not end with Iraq's acceptance of the return of the inspectors," Aziz said at the opening of a "solidarity conference" attended by lawmakers and other delegates from around the world. "The aim of the American policies is the oil in the Gulf," Aziz added.
Washington instantly dismissed the Iraqi announcement as a cynical ploy aimed at heading off strong action from the UN Security Council after a four-year standoff over disarmament.
US President George W. Bush still wants "a new, effective UN Security Council resolution that will actually deal with the threat Saddam Hussein poses to the Iraqi people, to the region, and to the world," a White House spokesman said.
Secretary of State Colin Powell said Tuesday that Washington would seek a new Security Council resolution spelling out the steps Iraq needs to take to meet 11-year old U.N. demands. "We will press for a resolution," Powell said. "If they (the Iraqis) are serious, they will want one."
Britain warned on Tuesday against letting President Saddam Hussein "make a monkey" of the world. "This is a very, very serious step forward, but we are dealing with serious politics here, with someone who has every intention of making a monkey of the rest of the world," British Home Secretary David Blunkett said in a radio interview. "The pressure will have to be kept up because Saddam Hussein has wriggled and managed to avoid detailed scrutiny...on every occasion" in the past, Blunkett added.
Iraq's offer came as a new poll showed British public opposition to a war against Baghdad ebbing. According to AP, the ICM/Guardian poll showed outright opposition in Britain to military intervention in Iraq had dropped to 40 percent, from 50 percent three weeks ago. At the same time, support for action rose to 36 percent from 33 percent, with "don't knows" making up the rest.
Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres held out little hope that Iraq's offer would succeed in defusing the crisis. "The United States unequivocally said they want to intervene militarily in Iraq ... I don't think they can go in any other direction," Peres said.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard said the world should treat Iraq's move with "a great deal of caution, a great deal of reserve and even a touch of skepticism" because Saddam's statements could not be taken at face value. New Zealand and South Korea also said the move was encouraging if it was true.
Japan's chief cabinet secretary Yasuo Fukuda said Iraq's letter was "very good" but added the international community still needed to see "whether Iraq will carry out what is in the letter sincerely."
Russia and China said Iraq's decision would lead to a political resolution of the crisis. "Now our main task is to ensure that the inspectors can get to Iraq as soon as possible and start their work," Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said. He added the inspectors would face "very difficult, great and laborious work."
"We hope that Iraq will comprehensively implement the U.N. resolutions to create the necessary conditions for the orderly and peaceful resolution of the Iraq issue," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said.
Iran said it welcomed any cooperation between Baghdad and the international community. "It was a wise and sensible decision which we hope will stop the drums of war," a government spokesman said.
Greece described Iraq's offer as positive, but warned that Saddam must fulfill his commitment "without delay" and not go back on his word "as he has done several times in the past," a diplomatic source said.
Malaysia said Iraq should be rewarded with an immediate lifting of the UN sanctions imposed after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. "Sanctions are hurting not Saddam Hussein, they are hurting a lot of poor people, old people, pregnant mothers," Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
© 2000 - 2022 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)