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UN Weapons Search Focuses on Iraqi Presidential Palace - 2003-01-15

U.N. weapons inspectors searched one of President Saddam Hussein's eight presidential palaces Wednesday in their hunt for weapons of mass destruction.

It was the second time U.N. weapons inspectors visited a presidential palace since resuming their inspections in Iraq November 27.

This time they traveled to the heart of Baghdad, to what's popularly known as the Old Palace. The palace, which overlooks the Tigris River, was built after the fall of the Iraqi monarchy in 1958 and was twice bombed during the 1991 Gulf war. It has since been repaired.

An Iraqi information ministry official described the palace as "a sensitive site."

On December 3, weapons inspectors made their first visit to one of eight presidential palaces in Iraq. That search prompted protests from Iraqi officials, who said the inspection had nothing to do with searching for weapons of mass destruction.

Weapons inspectors have spent 47 days in Iraq searching for weapons of mass destruction but, so far, say they have found none.

Next Monday the inspectors are scheduled to deliver a progress report to the U.N. Security Council.