Saturday, April 19, 2003

UN raises the stakes with call to Blix
'The United Nations Security Council has asked the head of the UN weapons inspection team, Hans Blix, to a meeting early next week to discuss the readiness of his team to return to Iraq. The request, issued by the current council president, Mexico, is expected to spark a heated debate between the United States and other members over whether Dr Blix and his team should be asked to verify any discovery of chemical and biological weapons in Iraq. Dr Blix may also be asked to help in the search for weapons.'

'The possibility of a new diplomatic stand-off overshadowed the European Union summit in Athens, following a call by the US President, George Bush, for the lifting of sanctions on Iraq. Russia and the EU suggested they would resist such a move unless it came with guarantees of a central role for the UN in postwar Iraq.'

'Russia insisted sanctions could be lifted only after international inspectors verified Iraq was free of weapons of mass destruction. And diplomats said that Security Council members, who must vote on the matter, would use that power to try to win for the UN the involvement Washington seems intent on denying it.'

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