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Iraq Pledges Full Cooperation with UN Weapons Inspectors - 2002-11-20

The chief U.N. weapons inspector, Hans Blix, has left Baghdad after two days of talks with Iraqi officials. Mr. Blix says the officials have pledged their full cooperation with the United Nations.

The chief U.N. inspector says that the level of access to be granted to inspectors was not even an issue during his discussions with Iraqi officials. That was settled, he says, by the U.N. Security Council's resolution 1441.

Mr. Blix was speaking to reporters in Cyprus, where he went after his trip to Iraq. He described his talks in Iraq as "constructive" but said Iraq must still show what he called "documentation and evidence" about its weapons program.

Under the Security Council resolution passed this month, Iraq must allow inspectors full access to all sites suspected of producing or holding weapons of mass destruction. The resolution also requires the country to submit a report of its weapons programs by December 8, which Iraqi officials say will be done.

Mr. Blix said Iraqi officials assured him that they will fully implement the U.N. Security Council resolution.

The resolution gives Iraq a deadline of December 8 to declare any weapons that it has. A top adviser to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Amir al-Saadi, said Wednesday that Baghdad will meet the deadline.

Iraq has promised U.N. inspectors unrestricted access to all sites in the country, as is also required by the Security Council's resolution.

Mr. Blix has left Iraq, along with the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei. But other members of the advance U.N. inspection team are staying in Iraq to help prepare for the arrival of the full team of inspectors expected early next week. The full inspection process is set to resume November 27.

Iraqi newspapers said Wednesday that after the inspection team verifies the country is free of weapons, the United Nations should lift the sanctions that it imposed on the country more than a decade ago.