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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Aziz Rejects New Weapons Inspectors

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz rejected Thursday the dispatch of new U.N. weapons inspectors to his country, but said Baghdad was still considering holding talks with the United Nations.

Asked by reporters whether Baghdad would accept a mission under inspector Hans Blix, Aziz said sharply: "No."

The Iraqi minister was questioned at the airport in Moscow at the end of a two-day visit. The exchange was shown on Russian television.

Aziz said U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan had issued a proposal "about a timetable for starting a dialogue" with Iraq.

"These proposals are being studied in Baghdad," Interfax news agency quoted him as saying. He said a decision would be taken "taking into account what would be best" for Iraq. He offered no further information.

Russian officials released few details about Aziz's talks in Moscow with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. A news conference scheduled for Wednesday was cancelled minutes before it was due to start.

Russia has called for the lifting of U.N. sanctions on Baghdad, imposed after Iraq invaded Gulf neighbour Kuwait in 1990. But Moscow has urged the Iraqis to resume dialogue with the U.N. on the inspections issue.

A Russian Foreign Ministry statement issued on Wednesday evening said Ivanov had "stressed the important meaning of the readiness expressed by the Iraqi side to resume dialogue with the U.N.".

Aziz, quoted by Interfax, described his talks in Moscow as "very good.

"There is a good understanding between the leaders of the two countries and we are discussing the problems associated with the spirit of friendship and mutual understanding," he said.