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More UN personnel arrive in Baghdad ahead of resumption of arms inspections

More UN personnel arrive in Baghdad ahead of resumption of arms inspections

Another 16 United Nations personnel have arrived in Baghdad in preparation for the resumption next week of weapons inspections in Iraq, a UN spokesman said today.

With the addition of the new arrivals yesterday, the advance team of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) now totals over 30, Hiro Ueki said in Baghdad.

The team is "hard at work" to get the Baghdad operations centre for weapons inspections up and running in time for the resumption of inspections on 27 November, he said.

The advance team includes administrative staff, computer and communications experts, medics and security personnel. The first team of inspectors from UNMOVIC and the IAEA is scheduled to arrive in Baghdad on Monday.

Meanwhile in the Netherlands, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was asked whether there was a proper chance for diplomacy to work in Iraq. "From the accounts that I have received, it did go well," he said, referring to the meetings of the chief UN weapons inspectors in Baghdad this week with senior Iraqi officials.

The important point, Mr. Annan added, was that if Iraq complies with UN resolutions and the inspectors are able to complete their work, "then I think the arguments for military action will be considerably diminished."

Asked about a request by the United States to some 60 countries to commit troops in the event that Iraq does not comply, the Secretary-General responded, "It's not up to me to advise the United States on how to prepare for certain eventualities." He added that for now, the focus was on effective inspections.