The team was scheduled to meet with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Hans Blix, head of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (Unimovic), which replaced the special commission in 1999. Baghdad has given mixed signals on whether it will receive UN weapons inspectors back into the country.

‘The issue of inspections teams is not the sole subject. Iraq has other issues. Lifting the embargo totally. Stopping the daily aggression,’ Iraqi vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan said before the meeting. ‘There are demands. The other side has demands. We are dialoguing in a comprehensive way.’