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Arab Envoys: Iraq Will Accept Draft

November 9, 2002

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CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ Egypt’s foreign minister said Saturday that he expected Iraq to accept the U.N. resolution to disarm but that Baghdad had not yet made a formal decision.

``I think we can expect a positive position by the Iraqis,″ Ahmed Maher told reporters after Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri explained Iraq’s position to the foreign ministers of the 22-member Arab League.

``We heard the Iraqi point of view and the history of relations with the United Nations and the inspectors and their readiness to cooperate ... already expressed in September, but they haven’t yet taken the formal decision on their attitude toward the resolution,″ Maher said.

Nabil Shaath, the Palestinian representative at the meeting, said Iraq had in effect accepted the resolution, but Arab foreign ministers still wanted assurances that the Security Council blueprint did not contain an automatic trigger allowing the United States to wage war on Iraq.

However, Sabri later told reporters ``no decision has been taken″ on the resolution that demands Iraq eliminate its weapons of mass destruction or face ``serious consequences.″

The first word of the Iraqi position came when Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal left the meeting shortly before midnight Saturday, saying, ``I think everyone welcomed transferring the issue to the Security Council, and they welcomed Iraq’s approval of this decision with the confirmation that Syria received that there would be no automatic military action.″

In a surprise move, Syria joined other U.N. Security Council members in voting for the resolution on Thursday, making passage of the resolution unanimous.

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