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Blix Will Meet Saddam Hussein If Asked - 2003-01-31

The chief U.N. weapons inspector says if invited, he would be willing to meet Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and would tell him to cooperate proactively with inspectors.

Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix would not say if he and International Atomic Energy Agency Director Mohammed ElBaradei will return to Iraq before they next report to the Security Council on February 14.

But he said he would accept an invitation to meet with Saddam Hussein. "If the Iraqi side were to suggest that," he added, "certainly we would be meeting him and we would describe the situation, the dangerous situation and the main thing that we have - no cooperation in substance."

Mr. Blix said inspectors have yet to receive a response from Iraq on their demands that Iraq allow inspectors to use aerial surveillance planes over the entire country and interview Iraqi scientists privately.

Mr. Blix emphasized that the inspectors welcome intelligence information that points to specific sites to search for weapons of mass destruction.

U.N. Secretary of State Colin Powell is scheduled to deliver new intelligence information on Iraq next week to a Security Council divided over whether to authorize military force or let the inspections continue their work.