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Iraq: Inspections won't end crisis

Iraq: Inspections won't end crisis

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Speaking for the first time since Iraq agreed to allow the return of U.N. weapons inspectors "without conditions," Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz predicted the move would not end the crisis.

"America ... wants to control the oil in Iraq," Aziz told the opening session of a "solidarity conference" in Baghdad of nations and officials opposed to war in the country.

"The only way to control the oil in Iraq is to destroy and divide Iraq and bring in a government like in Afghanistan."

Aziz said Iraq was ready to work with the United Nations and that "all the reasons for an attack have been eliminated."

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Sceptical responses from Washington and London to Iraq's move revealed those governments' "true intentions toward Baghdad," Aziz said. (World reaction)

In a letter handed to the United Nations on Monday, Iraq said it would allow the return of weapons inspectors to "remove any doubts Iraq still possesses weapons of mass destruction."

"The government of the Republic of Iraq is ready to discuss the practical arrangements necessary for the immediate resumption of inspections," Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri wrote in the letter. (Full text)

Sabri hand-delivered the letter in a meeting on Monday evening with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League.

"I am pleased to inform you of the decision of the government of the Republic of Iraq to allow the return of the United Nations weapons inspectors to Iraq without conditions," Sabri wrote.

"The government of the Republic of Iraq based its decision concerning the return of inspectors on its desire to complete the implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions and to remove any doubts that iraq still possesses weapons of mass destruction."

The timing of the letter coincides with a major push by the Bush administration to draft a new, tougher U.N. resolution ordering weapons inspectors back into Iraq on a tight deadline -- and threatening the use of military force if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein does not comply.


• Iraq agrees to weapons inspections
September 17, 2002
• Cautious welcome to Iraq move
September 17, 2002
• Bush administration skeptical of Iraq letter
September 17, 2002


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