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Arab World Relieved Following Iraq's Acceptance of UN Resolution - 2002-11-14

Governments throughout the Arab world and Gulf states are expressing relief and some cautious optimism following Iraq's acceptance of the U.N. Security Council resolution on weapons inspections.

Kuwait says Iraq's acceptance of the U.N. Security Council resolution will spare the blood of Iraqis and puts on hold the possibility of war.

In Qatar the government released a statement urging the Security Council and Iraq to cooperate in a peaceful way that will lead to a lifting of sanctions imposed on Iraq and an end to the suffering of the Iraqi people.

Iran called Iraq's acceptance a positive step toward reducing tension in the region and the world.

In Lebanon newspapers hailed the Iraqi decision as a step towards regional peace.

Egyptian newspapers suggested the region will now take a wait-and-see attitude regarding how Iraq responds to the arrival of the weapons inspectors and whether the United States will eventually attack Iraq.

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said Iraq's acceptance is a step in the right direction. He said there should be no discussion of a military option at this point. Instead, he said Iraq and the Security Council should concentrate on how to best facilitate the work of the inspectors.

Mr. Moussa called on the inspectors to carry out their mission without bias so the Security Council can move on to its next task, which he said should be lifting the sanctions it imposed on Iraq in 1990 after it invaded Kuwait. In Baghdad, the official Babel newspaper warned that what it called the "crisis with the United States" may have just begun, and it called on France, China and Russia to support Iraq in the coming months.

The French news agency quotes Iraqi citizens as saying they have mixed feelings about Saddam Hussein's acceptance of the resolution. They said the terms of the resolution are unfair but expressed relief that the threat of war has diminished, at least for the moment.

One Iraqi citizen was quoted as saying that while he was happy the "drums of war" have fallen silent, he asked, "for how long?"

Cairo columnist and public opinion expert Said Sadek Amin says the entire Arab world is "breathing a little easier today." But he says many people still think there will eventually be a war.

"There is a sense of relief. There is also a feeling that Saddam is not as strong as he used to be. He is no longer defiant. He is complying in the end. He is submitting to the U.N., Mr. Amin said. " But there is a general sense of relief that the military confrontation between Iraq and the United States has been put off for some time. When the inspections take place some problems may come up and this will be the excuse for the war, which people believe it would be inevitable, but it has been postponed now, for the time being."

Mr. Amin says most Arabs have no personal sympathy for Saddam Hussein whom they view, he says, as an oppressive dictator. But, Mr. Amin says Arabs do care about the Iraqi people and would not accept a U.S. led military strike against Iraq.

An advance team of U.N. technicians is scheduled to arrive in Iraq on Monday to begin the process of setting up offices and communications equipment. Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix will accompany the team. The actual inspection process is scheduled to begin in the next several weeks.

Inspectors have not been allowed in Iraq since December of 1998 when they left on the eve of U.S. and British airstrikes that were intended to punish Iraq for failing to fully cooperate with the inspectors.