Iraq talks wrap up in Vienna after producing 'some movement,' Annan says

Iraq talks wrap up in Vienna after producing 'some movement,' Annan says

Kofi Annan (2nd left) at UN-Iraq talks in Vienna
Wrapping up two days of meetings with officials from Iraq aimed at ending the stalemate over the return of United Nations weapons inspectors, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said some progress had been achieved - although he would have preferred more.

Speaking to reporters at the end of the talks, the Secretary-General said the two-day meeting included "a constructive discussion at the technical level," which focused on the remaining disarmament issues and the practical arrangements that would apply should UN inspections resume. The Iraqi delegation, he said, would now report back to its authorities, while contacts would continue on technical matters.

"There has been some movement," he said, but added, "I would have preferred to move further."

Earlier today, the Secretary-General was briefed on the outcome of closed-door expert discussions by the three senior UN officials who participated: Mohamed ElBaradei, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Hans Blix, Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission for Iraq (UNMOVIC) and Yuli Vorontsov, the High Level Coordinator on Iraq.

In the afternoon, the Secretary-General met one-on-one with the head of the Iraqi delegation, Foreign Minister Naji Sabri, according to a UN spokesman. That meeting was followed by a two-hour plenary session attended by the full Iraqi and UN delegations.

After the first session in the two-day talks ended on Thursday morning, the Secretary-General said, "We had a good round and a very good atmosphere." Foreign Minister Naji Sabri added, "We exchanged views in a serious and earnest manner."

Yesterday's discussions focused on disarmament, questions Iraq had submitted during the first round of talks, as well as the return of Kuwaiti property and other documents, the spokesman reported. Ambassador Vorontsov outlined the mechanism for the return by Iraq of the Kuwaiti national archives, which was also discussed by experts in the afternoon.