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Annan Hopeful on Iraq Inspections

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Annan Hopeful on Iraq Inspections

23 minutes ago

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Friday the first two days of preparatory work by weapons inspectors in Iraq went "very well" and that he is hopeful war in the region will be averted.

Speaking in an interview with Dutch television, he said the first 48 hours "spent in Iraq apparently went very well. I hope that is a sign of things to come."

Annan, who was on a two-day visit to the Netherlands to receive an honorary degree, appealed to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to cooperate with U.N. teams due to start searching for facilities for weapons of mass destruction next week.

"I hope that he and the Iraqi leadership realize that they have to comply," Annan said in a 25-minute interview. "I myself have urged President Saddam Hussein, for the sake of his people, the sake of the region and world order, to disarm and to cooperate with the inspectors fully."

Annan recognized the fears of Iraq's neighbors of possible military intervention, but said he was optimistic.

"I don't think war is invertible and that is why he really has to honor the commitments he has agreed to," he said.

The Baghdad government said it no longer has programs for weapons of mass destruction, but government officials also seem uncertain about how to comply with the U.N. mandate to provide a detailed accounting of its weapon capabilities.

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