Blix to have talks in Baghdad ahead of Security Council report

02 January 2003
Head of the UN weapons inspection team in Iraq, Hans Blix, is likely to accept an invitation from the Iraqi government to have talks in Baghdad on 18-20 January, ahead of his crucial report to the UN Security Council on 27 January. Blix is due to give his preliminary assessment of the success of the weapons inspection process, and the co-operation of the Iraqi government. A negative report could be used by the US as evidence that Iraq is in material breach of Resolution 1441, and provide a trigger for military action to remove Saddam Hussein. The letter of invitation, according to the official Iraqi news agency on 31 December, came from General Emir al-Saadi, an adviser to the president, who said he wished to review co-operation with inspectors and discuss any pending issues. Mohammed el-Baradei, head of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, is expected to accompany Blix.

The US meanwhile continued its military build-up in the Gulf, ordering a further 15,000 troops, specialised in desert warfare, to the region. US and British aircraft on 1 January bombed an Iraqi mobile radar system near al-Qurnah, saying in a statement that the facility posed a threat to allied planes. The Iraqis claimed that a civilian installation had been hit and that one person had been killed.

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