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UN names team for upcoming talks with Iraqi officials in Vienna

UN names team for upcoming talks with Iraqi officials in Vienna

Senior United Nations officials dealing with weapons of mass destruction, legal affairs as well as property and persons missing since Baghdad's 1990 invasion of Kuwait will be among those attending talks between the world body and Iraq, set to open next week in Vienna.

The UN's official delegation, to be led by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, will include Hans Blix, the Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), Mohammed ElBaradei, the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Hans Corell, the UN Legal Counsel, and Yuli Vorontsov, the High Level Coordinator on Iraq, according to UN spokesman Fred Eckhard.

The Iraqis have not yet submitted their delegation list to the UN, Mr. Eckhard told reporters in New York.

Asked whether Mr. Vorontsov’s participation indicated that the topic of missing Kuwaiti people and property had been added to the agenda of the talks, the spokesman recalled that following the last round, the Iraqis had announced their willingness to return a “substantial amount” of the Kuwaiti national archive and discussions in Vienna were expected to touch on the mechanism for facilitating that transfer. “Missing persons is also within Mr. Vorontsov’s remit, but whether it will come up or not, we can’t say but we would of course be prepared to discuss that should the Iraqis wish to,” he added.

To a question on when the sanctions against Iraq would be lifted, Mr. Eckhard replied, "That is dependent on the full implementation of the Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq, so the Council has laid out the path for the listing of sanctions and that is the path that the Secretary-General is asking Iraq to take."

He added that it would be difficult to predict a timeframe, saying, "How long it will take to get down that path is anyone's guess."

The Vienna talks are set to take place on 4 and 5 July at the UN headquarters in the Austrian capital. The previous rounds were held in New York on 7 March and from 1 to 3 May.