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US, UN Downplay Iraqi Parliament's Rejection of UN Resolution - 2002-11-13


Secretary of State Colin Powell conferred with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan late Tuesday as they awaited Iraq's response to last Friday's Security Council resolution requiring Baghdad to give up its weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Powell says the Iraqi parliament's call on Saddam Hussein to reject the resolution is "not to be taken seriously."

Administration officials, from President Bush on down, say Iraq has no real power to reject the Security Council measure. But appearing alongside the U.N. chief after their meeting here, Mr. Powell was non-committal about what might happen if Iraq fails to accept the terms of the resolution, which it has been given until this coming Friday to do.

"We put into that resolution this seven-day acknowledgment requirement to get an early indication from Iraq that they were going to cooperate this time, and not try to frustrate the will of the international community," said Colin Powell. "So we will see what they do this Friday. And I'm sure the Council will be very interested in getting a response from Iraq. But I don't want to prejudge what the Council might do, or what the United States might do in the presence, or absence of a positive statement on the part of the Iraqi government."

Mr. Powell said Tuesday's unanimous vote by the Iraqi parliament, recommending rejection of the U.N. resolution, "is not be taken seriously." He said the national assembly in Baghdad is "not a real parliament" and that all authority in Iraq is in the hands of Saddam Hussein.

For this part, Secretary-General Annan said that even while Iraq's formal response to the resolution is being awaited, plans are going forward for the departure for Baghdad of inspections chief Hans Blix and other members of his team by Monday of next week. "We are looking forward to receiving a letter from the Iraqis by the 15th, and then we will move on from there," said Kofi Annan. "Mr. Blix and the inspectors are ready to go, and as you know they will be there, they will leave on the 18th of November and will begin their work actively. And I can assure you they are determined to do a good, professional job."

The U.N. chief cautioned that last Friday's resolution was only the beginning of a process. In the measure, Iraq was given seven days to signal its consent for the new inspections and 30 days to provide a "complete declaration" of its weapons of mass destruction and related materials, and where they are located.

The inspections, which have been suspended for four years, are to resume within 45 days of the adoption of the resolution, though with Mr. Blix and his advance team heading for Iraq next week, expectations are that they will begin much sooner than that.

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