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Progress Made in Talks With Iraq Officials, Say UN Inspectors - 2002-09-30


Progress is reported at talks in Vienna to prepare for new weapons inspections in Iraq, but U.N. officials say more work needs to be done.

At the end of the day's talks, U.N. officials spoke briefly with reporters. The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammed El-Baradei, said there was progress.

"I think we went through a good deal of issues," he said. "We will continue tomorrow. I think we are making progress, but we still have a lot of work to do."

The talks are focusing on the logistics of the inspectors' return, such as housing, security of inspectors, movement inside Iraq and taking samples.

Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said a lot of material was covered. "We have had a very full day of discussions and we have completed the first reading of all the practical arrangements that we have identified in the past," he said. "And we will continue tomorrow, many issues have been clarified, and we will continue tomorrow and by the end of tomorrow, when we are finished, I hope we can say a little more than we have done today."

The inspectors left Iraq about four years ago. They pulled out in December 1998 amid allegations that Baghdad was not cooperating.

As the talks go on, the Security Council is considering a tough U.S.-draft resolution that threatens military action against Iraq and changes the operating rules for the inspectors.

The draft reportedly seeks guarantees that inspectors be protected by armed U.N. security forces and be given access to all Iraqi territory. Iraq would have just one week to accept the measure after it is adopted. Baghdad initially rejected the draft resolution.

Head weapons inspector Blix is to report Thursday to the Security Council on the outcome of the Vienna discussions.

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