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Iraq-U.N. weapons talks postponed until after February

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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Talks aimed at ending the impasse over United Nations weapons inspections in Iraq will not take place this week as originally planned, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Monday.

"I would expect the meeting would not take place until sometime after February," Annan said upon entering U.N. headquarters in New York.

Asked if he thought the Iraqis were bluffing about their desire for talks, Annan said: "We haven't really engaged in that sense. What I have offered is a date and a time frame in which we could meet, and I'm expecting them to react."

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Iraq first expressed interest in a dialogue with Annan at the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Doha, Qatar, in November. The Iraqis want to tie the admittance of new weapons inspectors to the lifting of sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council in 1990.

U.N. weapons inspectors were banned from Iraq in 1998, prompting a bombing campaign by the United States and Britain. A new inspection team, known as UNMOVIC, is prepared to enter Iraq once it receives a green light from Baghdad.

CNN Correspondent Jane Arraf contributed to this report.



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RELATED SITES:
United Nations
  • Office of the Iraq Programme
  • UNIKOM


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