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Baghdad Would Not Accept Peacekeepers, says Iraqi Official - 2003-02-11

A senior Iraqi official says there is no way Baghdad would accept the presence of U.N. peacekeepers as part of a plan to avoid war against Iraq.

France and Germany have discussed the idea of deploying U.N. peacekeepers to Iraq as part of a plan to find a peaceful solution to the Iraqi crisis, but Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri says Iraq would reject the presence of international troops.

Speaking to the Saudi-owned newspaper Al-Hayat, the foreign minister said that while he does not doubt the desire of some international parties to "face up to the logic of war and aggression," he said the presence of international peacekeepers in Iraq would only serve U.S. interests.

The plan outlined by France and Germany, which has already been dismissed by the United States as a diversion, calls for a tripling of the number of U.N. weapons inspectors, the deployment of about 1,000 armed U.N. peacekeepers, and the establishment of a no-fly zone over all of Iraq.

Mr. Sabri said any peace initiative that does not have the backing of the United States is bound to fail. He said Baghdad has not been informed of the details of the possible proposal but said no Iraqi would accept the deployment of international forces.