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UN Inspector Hans Blix to Review Iraq's Invitation for Talks


The U.N.'s chief weapons inspector Hans Blix says he is studying an invitation by Iraq for top inspectors to return to Baghdad for talks. Iraq is offering to talk before the Security Council hears again from U.N. weapons inspectors.

Mr. Blix says the Iraqi invitation shows that Baghdad wants to have some input before the inspectors next report to the Security Council on the 14 of February.

The chief inspector made his comments one day after meeting with the Security Council to discuss his most recent conclusions, rejected by Iraq, on the search for weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. Blix says Iraq still has not provided a response to the misgivings presented in his report [Monday], including Baghdad's barring the use of surveillance planes in the entire country and failing to provide private interviews with Iraqi scientists.

The Security Council remains divided on the next step to take to disarm Iraq. Eleven of the 15 members of the Security Council are in favor of giving inspectors more time and oppose authorizing military force.

The United States and Britain say Iraq is in "material breach," of a U.N. resolution to disarm.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is scheduled to present new intelligence information on Iraq to the Security Council next week.

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