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Iraq Postpones Talks With the U.N.

April 13, 2002|From Times Wire Services

UNITED NATIONS — Talks slated for this month between Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan have been postponed at Baghdad's request, Annan's spokesman said Friday.

Iraq sought the delay because it didn't want to distract attention from the crisis in the Middle East, Annan spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

The talks had been scheduled for next week in New York. No new date has been scheduled.

Iraq's U.N. ambassador, Mohammed Douri, said he expected the delay would be short, perhaps only until month's end.

"We don't want to divert public attention from the Palestinian problem for a relatively small issue of a dialogue with the United Nations," he told Reuters.

Annan and Sabri met March 7, their first high-level talks in a year. Annan has said he hoped the new talks would focus on the return of U.N. weapons inspectors to Iraq.

Baghdad is under sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, and they cannot be lifted until inspectors certify that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction have been eliminated.

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