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CNN BREAKING NEWS

U.S. Advises Inspectors to Leave Iraq

Aired March 17, 2003 - 05:47   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: We have big breaking news this morning, the U.S. government has advised weapons inspectors in Iraq to get out.
I'm over here at our international desk to check in with David Clinch.

When did we get word of this?

DAVID CLINCH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL EDITOR: Well, a bulletin crossed from Vienna. The IAEA had ElBaradei briefing his council this morning, telling them, amongst other things, that last night he got advised on the telephone from senior U.S. officials advising them, the IAEA, and he says also the other U.N. inspectors, to begin leaving Baghdad. That has not happened yet, though. This is advice that they're getting. They, as they are told to do by their remit (ph), then forward that to the Security Council. As they always remind us, they are servants of the Security Council. They forward that to the -- to the Security Council today. That will be discussed in New York and a decision will be made there. But...

COSTELLO: And Hans Blix got similar word, too?

CLINCH: That's what we're told. Haven't heard from him directly, but that's what we're told. That then again discussed at the U.N. today. President Bush has said this is a moment of truth, a decisive moment today. Basically the United States and the U.K. putting the U.N. inspectors on notice that military action is imminent, advising them to leave.

We still have this hurdle, if you want to put it that way, of a day of diplomacy or discussion at the U.N. as to whether or not the U.S. and U.K. are going to go ahead with military action and the U.N. needs to stand back and get its inspectors out or whether France, Germany and other countries are going to push for more discussion. Maybe a meeting on Tuesday, maybe a meeting later in the week, all of those things are still on the table. But the U.S. and U.K. seem determined to let everybody know that military action is imminent and we are ready.

COSTELLO: Yes, especially this morning.

David, thank you very much.

CLINCH: OK.

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