The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Iraq leaves door ajar on checks

Baghdad, Oct. 16 (Reuters): Basking in a 100 per cent domestic approval rating for President Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi government today suggested it may cooperate with new Western demands on UN arms inspections.

The United States and Britain have stepped up pressure for Iraq to disarm, saying devastating weekend bomb attacks in Bali made them more determined to pursue their “war on terrorism” and would not distract them from their campaign against Iraq.

Announcing the results of a referendum in which Saddam won every vote and a new term in office, the President’s top deputy left the door open for cooperation with any new UN Security Council resolution on weapons inspections. Iraqi officials have previously rejected any new resolution out of hand.

“If the Security Council issues a resolution that contradicts what we had agreed upon (previously)... we will take a position regarding it then,” said Izzat Ibrahim, deputy chairman of the ruling Revolutionary Command Council.

Key Security Council members have failed for three weeks to agree on a US-drafted resolution demanding the return of inspectors to Iraq and threatening military action if their work was hindered. The draft is supported by Britain, but France, backed by other council veto-holders China and Russia, favours two separate resolutions.

UN secretary-general Kofi Annan said whether in one step or two, he expected the Security Council to pass a resolution allowing inspectors to return to Iraq with greater powers and he urged Baghdad to comply.

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