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Ireland Mediates in Iraq

Monday November 9 9:33 AM ET
Ireland Mediates in Iraq Crisis
By WAIEL FALEH Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraq is willing to compromise to head off threats of
military action over suspended U.N. weapons inspections, an Irish envoy said
today after meeting with Iraqi officials.

``We believe that with good will on both sides, that a compromise could be
worked out,'' former Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds told reporters.
He talked with Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, for more than two
hours on Sunday, describing Aziz as ``open'' and ``very flexible.''

Reynolds, a member of the Irish Parliament, was credited with encouraging
the Irish Republic Army's 1994 cease-fire. He said he would travel to the
United States on Thursday to confer with American politicians.
He appealed to the United States and Britain to abandon threats of a
military strike and to negotiate a settlement.

But British Defense Secretary George Robertson said today that the world's
patience with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was ``draining away.''

A diplomatic solution to resolve the crisis is still possible but the
``option of force is there, is real,'' Robertson said in neighboring Kuwait,
the emirate Saddam's soldiers occupied in 1990, triggering economic
sanctions and the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Also today, five more inspectors from the U.N. Special Commission left Iraq.
The commission is responsible for overseeing the elimination of Iraq's
chemical and biological weapons and long-range missiles as called for in the
resolutions that ended the Gulf War.

Caroline Cross, UNSCOM spokeswoman in Baghdad, said 10 more inspectors are
scheduled to depart Wednesday. UNSCOM began the partial pullout Saturday,
and 15 inspectors left over the weekend.

Cross noted that more than 100 U.N. weapons inspectors remain in Iraq and
could resume work immediately if Iraq changes its position.

Iraq announced Oct. 31 that it was halting cooperation with UNSCOM until the
U.N. Security Council begins moving to lift the economic sanctions imposed
to punish Iraq for its invasion of Kuwait.

The sanctions, which ban the sale of oil and other types of trade and
investment, have devastated Iraq's economy.

President Clinton met with top security advisers Sunday, but he put off a
decision on whether to use force against Iraq in an effort to reopen
military sites to U.N. inspectors.

Reynolds urged the United Nations, Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony
Blair to discuss lifting the sanctions.
``''Nobody wants to see a resumption of a conflict that has such horrendous
repercussions on the people of Iraq and on the children that are suffering
most of all.''

The Security Council has said the embargo won't be lifted until U.N.
inspectors certify that Iraq has eliminated its weapons of mass destruction,
as required by U.N. resolutions that ended the Gulf War.

Although Iraq halted UNSCOM's work, it exempted monitors from the
Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency. Two IAEA teams went into
the field today, as they have on most days this month. They were accompanied
by UNSCOM technicians who were collecting samples from air sensors, Cross

Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh told reporters Sunday that Iraq
did not fear a military attack.

``They will not kill in a military strike more than they are killing with
sanctions every day,'' he said.


According to a UNICEF 1998 report, 250 people die every day in Iraq
because of the sanctions.

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