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Friday, 5 July, 2002, 01:48 GMT 02:48 UK
Iraq-UN talks set to continue
Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
Positive talks - but no breakthrough
Talks between United Nations and Iraqi officials on the return of weapons inspectors to the country are set to resume in Vienna.

During talks on Thursday, Iraq is said to have requested answers on when UN sanctions against it could be lifted if inspectors were allowed back in.


We exchanged views in a serious and earnest manner

Naji Sabri, Iraqi foreign minister
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan described Thursday's meeting as positive - but there is no sign of a major breakthrough.

Asked if anything concrete would come of the two-day talks with Iraqi officials, Mr Annan smiled and said: "Inshallah", the Arabic word for "God willing".

"We exchanged views in a serious and earnest manner," Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said.

Mr Sabri said his government still wanted a range of issues to be considered, including threats by the US to overthrow the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

For its part, the UN wants to see its arms inspectors return to Baghdad after a ban of more than three years.

This is a step the Security Council sees as essential before any talk of lifting the 12-year-old economic sanctions on Iraq.

UN officials have warned not to expect too much from the two-day meeting in Vienna.

Diplomatic waltz

This is the third meeting between the Iraqis and the UN since the beginning of the year.

Iraqis demonstrate in Baghdad
Arms inspectors left Iraq three years ago

Earlier talks have been something of a diplomatic waltz around the issues that have so far prevented Baghdad from agreeing to the return of the weapons inspectors.

UN weapons inspectors were pulled out of Iraq just before the United States and Britain launched a round of air strikes in December, 1998 to punish Baghdad for blocking their work.

Iraq has not allowed them back in since to search for the chemical, biological or nuclear weapons that it has been accused of continuing to develop.

However, UN diplomats did hail one agreement on Thursday as a "significant" sign.

Iraq agreed to return 90% of the archives it took when it occupied Kuwait.


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04 Jul 02 | Americas
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