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No Breakthrough at UN-Iraq Weapons Inspection Talks - 2002-05-03


Three days of talks between the United Nations and Iraq on getting weapons inspectors back into Baghdad ended Friday without a breakthrough. But Secretary-General Kofi Annan says the talks were frank and very useful, and more talks are being scheduled.

Secretary-General Annan expects another round of talks with Iraq to take place within the month. Mr. Annan indicated the talks this week went well. He says he does not want to lose momentum.

"The discussions this time around on the issues were very thorough," he said. "And I hope once they have reported back, I hope they will be able to take some decisions and come back to us with positive news."

U.N. officials were encouraged by the composition of the Iraqi delegation to New York, which included several high-level weapons experts.

The discussions included other topics, which the Iraqis consider relevant to the return of the arms inspectors, who have been barred from the country for nearly four years. The Secretary-General confirmed that the Iraqi delegation raised issues such as the possibility of U.S. military action against Iraq, an option the Bush Administration is said to be considering.

The Secretary-General says Iraq's foreign minister Naji Sabri wanted to know if the United States would still invade if the weapons inspectors were let back into Iraq. Mr. Annan told him that is a question that only the Americans can answer.

Iraq wants an end to U.N. sanctions, which were imposed after it invaded Kuwait in 1990. However, the lifting of the sanctions is contingent on Iraq's cooperation on the weapons issue. Iraq was prohibited from having weapons of mass destruction under a Security Council resolution adopted after the 1991 Gulf War.