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UN-Iraq to Resume Talks on Weapons Inspectors - 2002-05-21

The United Nations says it will resume talks with Iraq in early July about the possible return of U.N. inspectors to search for weapons of mass destruction.

In New York, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard did not disclose precise dates or the location of the new talks.

But the Reuters news agency quotes diplomatic sources as saying they will probably take place July first through fifth in Vienna.

U.N. inspectors left Iraq in 1998 before U.S. and British airstrikes. The Baghdad government has barred them from returning.

Senior Russian diplomats say they have urged Iraq to allow U.N. weapons inspectors back to help end trade sanctions. Representatives of both countries met in Moscow Monday to boost bilateral trade.

Monday's U.N. announcement comes less than a week after Baghdad accepted U-N terms for a six-month extension of a program that allows Iraq to sell oil to buy food and humanitarian supplies.

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to revise sanctions to allow shipment of most civilian goods into Iraq, but barring a 300-page list of products that could be diverted to military use.

Yuri Fedotov, chief of the Russian foreign ministry's international relations department, said that the new U.N. sanctions should be seen as temporary and they would make it harder for the United States to take military action against Iraq.

The U.N. imposed sanctions on Baghdad after Iraqi military forces invaded Kuwait in 1990, triggering the Gulf War.

The sanctions cannot be lifted until U.N. inspectors certify that Iraq has ended its program to develop and possess weapons of mass destruction.