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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Dismisses Iraqi Offers as 'Word Games'

WASHINGTON -- The United States dismissed the latest Iraqi offer on weapons inspections as "word games" and repeated its call for sustained international pressure on Iraq to disarm.

Iraq appeared on Saturday to relent on some UN demands on weapons inspections after ignoring a list of ground rules United Nations officials sent to Baghdad earlier.

But diplomats said a new letter from an Iraqi presidential adviser delivered to weapons inspectors, the second this week, still fell short of a total acceptance of conditions for future inspections set down by UN disarmament officials.

"Iraq continues to want to play word games and not comply," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jo-Anne Prokopowicz said. "It will continue to make contradictory promises and then choose the version of most tactical benefit at any given moment.

"Iraq responds to pressure, but will revert to non-compliance the moment it thinks it can. That is why the UN Security Council must tell Iraq what to do and what will happen if it doesn't," she added.

The Security Council opens debate Wednesday on a resolution that would threaten Iraq if its defiance of UN weapons inspectors continues. The United States has drafted a measure that would give inspectors more rights and authorize the use of force if Iraq did not comply.

Iraq appeared on Saturday to relent on some UN demands when an adviser to President Saddam Hussein sent a letter saying Iraq was ready to remove all obstacles to a return of inspectors after a nearly four-year break.

"We assert our complete readiness once again to receive the advance team on Oct. 19 as per our preliminary agreement with you and our readiness to resolve all issues that may block the road to our joint cooperation," wrote General Amir al-Saadi.

The new letter to chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix and Mohamed El-Baradei, head of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, acknowledged their desire for "unfettered access" to eight controversial palace sites of Saddam's, but made no specific concession on the issue.

Al-Saadi had written a letter to the two UN officials Thursday, pledging his cooperation but ignoring their demands, ranging from interviews of Iraqi scientists outside of their country to flying U-2 satellite spy planes.

The latest letter did suggest a new flexibility on allowing inspectors to interview Iraqis and to make flights over Iraqi territory.

A Western UN Security Council diplomat said Iraq was still avoiding a "yes" or "no" reply to the inspectors.

"It sounds like they recognize they had shot themselves in the foot with the first letter but this one still leaves loose ends," the envoy said in New York.

The Iraqi government put the final touches on Sunday to preparations for a presidential referendum designed to show massive domestic support for Saddam.

It wants Tuesday's tightly controlled vote to show that Iraqi people stand behind the Iraqi strongman. Saddam, 65, is the only candidate.