Iraq

Top UN inspector meets with European officials, urges 'proactive' cooperation by Iraq

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After meeting with European officials today in the first of a series of talks before heading to Baghdad, the top United Nations weapons inspector said Iraq must offer more "proactive" cooperation with UN monitors in order to avoid military conflict.
"The message that we want to bring to Baghdad is that the situation is very tense and very dangerous and that everybody wants to see a verified and credible disarmament of Iraq, of doing away with any weapons of mass destruction that may remain there," Hans Blix, Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), said at a press conference in Brussels.

His comments came after a meeting with the EU's High Representative for a Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, the European Commission's External Relations Commissioner, Chris Patten, and other European officials.

From Brussels, Mr. Blix is scheduled to travel to Paris and London before heading to Baghdad this weekend with the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, for further consultations with their Iraqi counterparts.

Mr. Blix said Iraq's 12,000-page arms declaration did not provide any new evidence and urged Baghdad to be "proactive" in its cooperation in order to convince the Security Council that the country no longer has any more weapons of mass destruction.

"There are two major avenues to this and one of them is through the United Nations and through the inspections that I represent, and we feel that Iraq must do more than they have done so far in order to make this a credible avenue," he stressed.

"The other major option is the one we have seen taking shape in the form of an armed action against Iraq," he added. "Of course from my part and for the part of Mr. ElBaradei, we try our best to make the inspections effective and so that we can have a peaceful solution."