Geneva talks raise hopes for end to Iraq crisis
November 19, 1997
Web posted at: 8:43 a.m. EST (1343 GMT)
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The U.N. Security Council was
meeting Wednesday to discuss the latest
developments in the ongoing standoff with Iraq. The meeting
was arranged after Moscow said Iraq had agreed to a Russian
plan aimed at resolving the crisis over U.S. weapons
Diplomats speaking on condition of anonymity said several
council members at Wednesday's closed-door meeting were
expected to urge U.N. weapons team chief Richard Butler to
send the non-American inspectors back to Iraq quickly because
the pullout has effectively halted the on-ground monitoring
"We have worked out a certain program which we believe could
avoid an armed confrontation and eventually eliminate this
crisis," Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov said Tuesday. "This program is conditioned on the fact that Iraq
comply with the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council."
The announcement came after visiting Iraqi Deputy Prime
Minister Tariq Aziz had several meetings with Primakov and
conferred with Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
Primakov did not reveal any details of the Russian plan, but
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright cut short a visit
to India and was traveling to Geneva for a meeting with
Primakov and the British and French foreign ministers.
The meeting -- scheduled for 2 a.m. Thursday -- was intended
to examine the details of the Russian proposal and what
exactly Aziz had agreed to during his talks in Moscow.
Primakov said he "expected a lot" from the meeting. A French
government spokeswoman said that goal of talks would be to
reach a consensus on precisely what Iraq must do to end the
U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin said the crisis
would be over if Baghdad had agreed to a resumption of U.N.
weapons inspections and compliance with all U.N. Gulf War
The standoff began October 29 when Iraq announced it planned
to expel U.S. weapons inspectors working for the United
The expulsions took place last Thursday, when six Americans
were kicked out. The U.N. withdrew its remaining 68
inspectors in protest. The Iraqi action was condemned by the
U.N. Security Council and the United States held out the
threat of a possible military strike in retaliation.
Certification that Iraq has destroyed all its nuclear,
chemical, biological and ballistic arms is required before
punishing sanctions imposed after Baghdad invaded Kuwait in
1990 can be lifted.
Correspondents Steve Hurst and Betsy Aaron contributed to