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White House Dismisses Reported Iraqi Offer - 2003-02-28


The White House has dismissed as "a deception" a reported Iraqi promise to destroy its Al-Samoud-Two missile arsenal possibly beginning as early as Saturday.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer again demanded "complete and total" Iraqi disarmament. He characterized the Iraqi promise to destroy its missiles as a "continued trickery and deception."

But in New York today, Chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix characterized the Iraqi promisen as "a very significant piece of real disarmament." He told reporters Iraq has become "very active" and he may change his assessment Thursday that Baghdad's disarmament efforts had been only "very limited."

Inspectors and Iraqi officials are set to meet early Saturday for technical talks ahead of any Iraqi action to dismantle the missiles.

President Bush has threatened to send a US-led military coalition to disarm Iraq, if it does not comply with UN disarmament resolutions. The US position is supported by Britain, Spain and some other European governments.

Russia, France and Germany oppose military action at this time and are calling for continued UN weapons inspections to contain Iraq.

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