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Iraq Invites US Congressional Team to Search for Weapons of Mass Destruction - 2002-08-05

Iraq has invited U.S. Congressional representatives to visit the country to examine charges that the government of Saddam Hussein is developing weapons of mass destruction.

Iraqi Parliament speaker Sadoun Hammadi extended a written invitation for a three-week visit and what he called an extensive search of the country. The letter said that access would be given to every facility suspected of producing or storing chemical or biological weapons.

In his letter, Mr. Hammadi said the visit would give the U.S. government the chance to see firsthand that Iraq is not producing or storing weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Hammadi also urged the United States, in his words, to "see the true factors through direct dialogue" and then reach their own conclusions. The Polish Embassy, which represents U.S. interests in Baghdad, received the four-page letter.

There is growing speculation that the United States will go to war with Iraq to eliminate what the Bush administration sees as the Iraqi threat to develop and use weapons of mass destruction.

The United States accuses President Saddam Hussein of supporting terrorism and attempting to rebuild his country's chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs.

Last week, Iraq invited the chief U.N. weapons inspector to come to Baghdad for talks. The U.N. Security Council was to meet Monday to consider that Iraqi invitation.

President Bush has said he will use all available means to deal with what he sees as the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and his weapons program.