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UN weapons inspection commission and Iraq start talks, agree to meet again in Vienna

UN weapons inspection commission and Iraq start talks, agree to meet again in Vienna

The United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), which is charged with disarming Iraq, held a "useful" meeting with the country's officials today on the resumption of inspections.

In a statement to the press, UNMOVIC said it had provided the Iraqi officials with a list of practical arrangements related to getting inspectors back into the country following a nearly four-year absence.

The Iraqi side said it needed some time to study and consult in Baghdad about these practical arrangements, according to the statement.

UNMOVIC and Iraq agreed that further talks would "take place and be concluded at a meeting in Vienna in the week beginning 30 September," the statement said, noting that the timing remains undecided as UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Hans Blix needs to be available to the Security Council.

At the meeting in the Austrian capital, Iraq will provide UNMOVIC with the backlog of its semi-annual monitoring declarations. In addition, Iraq will consider national legislation based on models provided by UNMOVIC concerning the prohibition of all weapons of mass destruction activities.

"Both sides believe it was a useful meeting and the Iraqi delegation welcomed the resumption of inspections," UNMOVIC said.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Iraqi official Saeed Hasan echoed this view, calling discussions "fruitful."

"We received documents from Mr. Blix on this issue and we agreed to meet in Vienna in 10 days to finalize the practical arrangements," he said. "Also in this meeting we reiterated and expressed the readiness of Iraq for the speedy and smooth resumption of UNMOVIC and IAEA activities." In addition, the talks touched on "issues relating to our future common work."

Mr. Hasan said Iraq was "looking forward to meeting with Ambassador Blix and UNMOVIC officials to finalize the work and go ahead in order to implement fully all the provisions of Security Council resolutions in order to lift sanctions and return the situation to normal."