Wednesday, Sep 18, 2002
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Other nations on Tuesday cautiously welcomed the Iraqi about-face. Russia and China, who hold veto power in the U.N. Security Council, said it was a victory for concerted international efforts.
``Now our main task is to ensure that the inspectors can get to Iraq as soon as possible and start their work,'' the Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, said.
In Baghdad, the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, said weapons inspectors should finish their work ``within a reasonable time'' to facilitate the lifting of sanctions. He said the U.S. may still be looking for a reason to attack Iraq.
``If the inspectors come and act honestly, professionally... they can reach the truth within a reasonable time. But if the Americans are using this as a pretext, they might use some other way in order to commit an aggression against Iraq.''
Earlier, Mr. Aziz said Washington's sole goal was to dominate oil in the Persian Gulf region. He called upon the U.N. Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, to monitor inspectors closely to ensure that they did not overstep their mission.
He said Iraq hoped that the return of the inspectors ``will lead as soon as possible to the lifting of sanctions and normalising the situation.'' AP
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