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Iraqi Diplomat Expands European Offensive Against US Attack

Iraq is planning to expand its diplomatic offensive across Europe to try to forestall a U.S.-led military attack against the Saddam Hussein government.

The Iraqi representative in London, Mudafa Amin, says he will visit European capitals to rally support against possible American military action to topple Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The announcement comes as Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri visited Moscow Monday, on a similar mission.

Iraq says it wants to present its case to several European Union countries, including France and Germany, whose governments have spoken out against the potential attacks.

Ahead of the tour, Mr. Amin told British radio Monday Iraq is prepared to allow United Nations weapons inspections to resume. He said inspections could prove to Washington that Baghdad is not acquiring weapons of mass destruction. "We are ready to welcome the inspectors," he said. "We are ready to talk to the United Nations. We are already in the process of talking. If they are sincere in not waging a war, let them give us a chance to prove ourselves."

His comments come amid signs of disagreement within the Bush administration about how to deal with Iraq.

Vice President Dick Cheney has dismissed calls for renewed weapons inspections. He says they could give the world what he calls "false comfort" that Iraq has abandoned its quest for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

But Secretary of State Colin Powell has spoken out in support of inspections. He says inspections could be what he calls "the first step" toward resolving the crisis.

Iraq is required by U.N. Security Council resolutions to give weapons inspectors free access. But the inspections ended nearly four years ago when the U.N. pulled out its personnel ahead of U.S. and British air strikes. Since then, Baghdad has refused to let the inspectors back in.