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[casi] Iraq Makes New....

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 "Iraq makes new UN inspection offer"

Iraq has written to the United Nations, reportedly saying it wants more discussions before allowing 
weapons inspectors back into the country.
The letter - from Iraqi Regime Foreign Minister Naji Sabri to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan - 
reportedly says Iraq wants to establish ground rules before agreeing to the return of the 
inspectors, who left four years ago.

Annan wants an invitation for the inspectors

But a partial and preliminary translation of the Arabic document suggests it falls short of UN 
demands for an unconditional invitation to inspectors to return.

The correspondence comes amid continuing speculation that the United States is preparing military 
action to topple Saddam Hussein.

The US has been demanding that Baghdad agree to new inspections without further discussion to 
demonstrate that it is not developing weapons of mass destruction.

'Old wine in new bottles'

The partial translation, circulated by US diplomats, suggests Mr Sabri's proposal is similar to 
previous Iraqi overtures.

In the letter, Baghdad reportedly says it wants more technical discussions on the aims and scope of 
any future UN weapons inspection mission before agreeing to its return.

UN officials say the latest letter is 10 pages long, compared to the one-page letter Mr Sabri sent 
the UN secretary general earlier this month.

But the BBC's UN correspondent, Greg Barrow, says the new request is also likely to be met with a 
polite rejection from Mr Annan.

US reaction was also expected to be negative. An anonymous US official told Reuters new agency that 
the proposal was "old wine in new bottles".

'No discussion'

Iraqi diplomats at the UN say the letter repeats Baghdad's earlier invitation to UN experts to 
discuss arrangements for the resumption of UN weapons inspections.

Iraq's ambassador to the UN, Mohammed Aldouri, told Reuters news agency: "We are at the stage of 
discussion, not implementation."

Iraq's earlier offer was rejected by the UN, with Mr Annan insisting in a letter to Mr Sabri that 
the UN wanted nothing short of a formal invitation for the return of weapons inspectors.

Mr Annan's letter outlined steps Iraq should take to comply with a 1999 Security Council resolution 
calling for the return of inspectors.

Iraqi Regime Foreign Minister Naji Sabri wrote the letter

UN deputy spokeswoman Hua Jiang reminded Baghdad of Mr Annan's conditions.

"You will recall that on 5 August, the secretary general had written to Regime Foreign Minister 
Sabri and had indicated that he looked forward to receiving from the Iraqi government a formal 
invitation to the UN weapons inspectors."

She said no immediate comment should be expected from Mr Annan, who is on holiday.

The US 'ploy'

Mr Aldouri said part of his country's distaste for an unconditional visit from inspectors was due 
to its mistrust of the US.

"The United States doesn't wish really to have inspectors back because they would like to realize 
their dream to invade Iraq," he was quoted by Reuters.

"If there are inspectors back, I think they would ask them to create a problem so to give 
justification for Americans to say, 'Look what Iraq is doing' and 'We have a free hand to attack 
Iraq'," he said.

'Latest intelligence'

US President George W Bush - who faces European resistance to a possible attack on Iraq, as well as 
criticism from within his own party - said on Friday that Washington is listening to its allies.

"We'll continue to consult," he said. "People should be allowed to express their opinion.

"But America needs to know I'll be making up my mind based on the latest intelligence and how best 
to protect our own country plus our friends and allies."

UN inspectors have not been allowed back into Iraq since leaving in 1998 - seven years after they 
went into the country.

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