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Iraq: Diplomatic Efforts To Defuse Crisis Continue

Riyadh, 17 November 1997 (RFE/RL) - Diplomatic efforts continue today to defuse the more than two week old standoff in Iraq over United Nations weapons inspections.

Saudi Arabia today called on Iraq to comply with U.N. Security Council demands and rescind its decision to oust Americans from U.N. weapons inspection teams. The statement followed talks in Riyadh between Saudi officials and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who is in the region trying to build a consensus against Iraq.

French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine also demanded Baghdad apply United Nations resolutions and end it efforts to build weapons of mass destruction. Albright yesterday said Washington looked to France and Russian to help seek a diplomatic solution to the Iraq crisis. Vedrine also said France had NOT decided if it would join any U.S.-led military action against Iraq.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein yesterday said he was NOT seeking confrontation with the U.N. Earlier today in Morocco, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz reiterated an offer to readmit U.S. weapons inspectors, if the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council had equal representation on the teams. The U.S. has so far rejected the offer.