Iraq for a political solution, Clinton is prepared to act
Iraq-USA, Politics, 11/11/1998
Iraqi Foreign Minister Muhammad Saeed al-Sahaf has called for finding out a political solution for the dispute with UNSCOM (UN weapon's inspection group).
In an interview with Qatari satellite channel al-Jazira late on Monday, al-Sahaf called upon the UN Security Council to respond to the Iraqi request on making comprehensive revision of Iraq's commitment to UN resolutions so as to lift sanctions imposed on his country since eight years.
Al-Sahaf added the UN Security Council should be given a chance free from all American pressure in order to carry out a comprehensive evaluation of the situation, accepted by all sides concerned, started with lifting the embargo imposed on Iraq."
The Iraqi minister noted intensive contacts which are currently made with the UN Secretary General special envoy Parakash Shah and with the UN chief Kofi Annan to settle the crisis with the UN inspectors. He, on the other hand, described the US threats to strike Iraq as "irresponsible act." He added that carrying out a military act would destabilize the region.
The US had threatened to use force against Iraq after the latter announced suspension of cooperation with UNSCOM. The US president Bill Clinton today said that "Nowhere is our vigilance more important than in the gulf," a reference to the oil rich region. Clinton said that if Iraq is serious about a solution "let UNSCOM do its job." Clinton said that we had previously agreed to Iraqi demands for a full review of the sanctions, but only "after" Iraq resumes full cooperation with UNSCOM. A recent CIA report claimed that Iraq can reconstitute its ability to implement weapons of mass destruction within two months. Clinton said the best way to deal with this problem is for UNSCOM to inspect those facilities. The inspectors left Iraq "for the safety of our personnel" said their chief Richard Butler today about the evacuation decision.
Under an intense atmosphere surrounding this issue and highlighted by talk of US military personnel heading to the area, on top of the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier that according to the Pentagon was given orders to speed to the Gulf, Clinton today added that "diplomacy is always preferable" and "we continue to hope, indeed pray, that Saddam will comply, but we must be prepared to act if he does not."
It remains to be seen if the start of a solution can be found within al-Sahaf's call for a comprehensive review of the sanctions and the US's assurance that the review will be forthcoming if Iraq cooperates.
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