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Chief UN Weapons Inspectors to Return to Iraq February 8 - 2003-02-01

The two chief U.N. weapons inspectors will return to Iraq February 8. The meeting is to take place ahead of a progress report the inspectors are to deliver to the U.N. Security Council later this month.

Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tarik Aziz, announced that the chief U.N. weapons inspectors will return to Baghdad for more talks on the search for banned weapons. But Mr. Aziz says he does not think those talks will be with President Saddam Hussein.

Mr. Aziz did not say what concessions Iraq was prepared to offer in talks with chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

On Friday, Mr. Blix said he would seek more cooperation from Iraq. He said the inspectors have not yet received a response to their demands that Iraq allow the use of aerial surveillance planes over the entire country and allow inspectors to interview Iraqi scientists privately.

The meeting next week between Iraq and the chief inspectors would come just days ahead of a key report from inspectors to the U.N. Security Council due February 14. Washington says time is running out for Iraq to disarm peacefully.