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Wednesday, 18 February, 1998, 17:29 GMT
UN Secretary General hopeful of success of Iraqi mission

The United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, says he feels he has a reasonable chance of success in his mission to Iraq to try to resolve the crisis over weapons inspections.

Speaking on the eve of his departure for Baghdad, Mr Annan said he'd been encouraged by signs that the Iraqi leadership was willing to hold serious negotiations.

The Iraqi ambassador to the UN, Nizar Hamdoon, told the BBC he was hopeful a compromise could be found which would be acceptable to all sides.

His American counterpart, Bill Richardson, said he felt Mr Annan's mission might be the last chance for a diplomatic solution.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi news agency says a special team of UN experts surveying disputed presidential sites in Iraq has finished its work.

The sites, which the weapons inspectors have not been allowed to enter, cover an area of about seventy-five square kilometres.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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