Iraq renewed its allegations Thursday that it is not being treated fairly by U.N. weapons inspectors as a U.N. envoy arrived in Baghdad with a message from Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein announced last week that Iraq would no longer cooperate with the U.N. Special Commission, which is charged with ensuring that Iraq eliminates its biological and chemical weapons and long-range missiles.Envoy Prakash Shah arrived in Iraq on Thursday for talks aimed at defusing the latest crisis over weaponry.
He told reporters shortly after arrival that he had brought a message from Annan to the Iraqi leadership, which he was delivering later.
He did not disclose the contents, but U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said earlier that Annan would ask Saddam to reverse Iraq's decision not to cooperate with U.N. inspectors.
The chief U.N. weapons inspector, Richard Butler, said in a letter to the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday that Iraqi restrictions were making it impossible for inspectors to ensure that Iraq was not reviving its weapons programs.
But the state-run Al-Qadissiya newspaper on Thursday repeated Iraq's allegation that Butler was working on behalf of the United States to prolong the sanctions.
The New York Times reported Thursday, however, that Iraq also was impeding the long-term monitoring by not allowing inspectors to act on violations that their equipment detect.
Not since the disarmament of Iraq began after the Persian Gulf War in 1991 has Saddam taken such a clear step to block long-term surveillance that he would have to accept in return for the lifting of sanctions.
Iraq experimented this week with a television propaganda blitz intended to court world opinion. The effort is getting mixed reviews and could backfire where opinion matters most: in the Security Council.
In the past few days, Iraqi television, and networks around the world, have been showing video footage of a tense standoff between Aziz and Butler.
. Networks have aired mostly one short clip that appears to show Butler getting up from his chair and abruptly ending the meetings Aug. 3.
"That never happened," Butler said Wednesday.