Iraq has offered to readmit UN weapons inspectors immediately and unconditionally.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announced he had received a letter from Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri informing him of the Iraqi government’s decision.
The letter said Iraq wanted to start immediate discussions on practical arrangements for the return of the inspectors, and "remove any doubts that Iraq still possesses weapons of mass destruction."
Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said Baghdad had now removed any excuse for a US attack. But he also acknowledged the offer may not be enough to prevent a US attack. He said: "The aim of the American policies is the oil in the Gulf."
White House spokesman Dan Bartlett dismissed the unconditional offer, calling it a tactic to give "false hope to the international community" and saying "we are not in the business of negotiating with Saddam Hussein." White House spokesman Scott McClellan added in a statement: "It is a tactic that will fail." He said the issue is disarmament of weapons of mass destruction.
Russia welcomed Iraq’s announcement. The Russian Foreign Minister said: "we have managed to put aside the threat of a war scenario around Iraq and return the process to a political channel".
A Chinese government spokesman also welcomed Iraq’s offer, saying if Iraq implemented the UN resolutions, it could create the conditions for peace.
The UN Security Council meets today.
- George Galloway, British MP in Baghdad.
- Former Sen. James Abourezk (D-S.D.)
- Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies and editor of "Beyond the Storm: A Gulf Crisis Reader" and author of the forthcoming "Before & After: U.S. Foreign Policy and the September 11 Crisis."