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Iraq Invites UN Inspectors to Baghdad for More Talks - 2003-01-31


United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq continued the search for banned weapons of mass destruction Friday. Iraq has invited the two top inspectors to Baghdad for more talks, but one of them has expressed reservations.

On Friday, U.N. inspectors visited several sites, including a company that develops fuses for missiles and an agricultural equipment facility.

Thursday, the Iraqi president's advisor, Amir al Saadi, extended an invitation to U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission chief Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Iraq said discussions would cover cooperation and disarmament issues raised by the inspectors in their January 27 report to the U.N. Security Council.

Speaking in Vienna, Mr. ElBaradei said Friday that, before the invitation for more talks is accepted, Iraq must address the concerns raised in the report. Among other things, the inspectors want private interviews with Iraqi scientists and surveillance flights.

The chief inspectors are to make another report to the Security Council on February 14.

President Bush has cautioned that the window of opportunity to resolve the crisis in Iraq peacefully will only remain open for weeks not months.

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