The United States has rejected Iraq's call for independent observers to accompany United Nations weapons inspectors to Iraq.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters in Washington Tuesday Iraqi officials are attaching conditions in an area in which they should have no say.
Baghdad says it wants independent news media and individuals to accompany the weapons inspectors to Iraq, saying the U-N inspectors cannot be trusted. In remarks published Tuesday, Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan says his country will not allow U-N inspectors to be the only source of information regarding the inspections process.
His comments came as chief U-N arms inspector Hans Blix met with the U-N Security Council (Monday) on the U-S draft resolution calling for tough, new inspections and serious consequences if Baghdad fails to allow them.
After the meeting, Mr. Blix told reporters the council should pass a resolution that would prevent Iraq from playing games with arms inspectors and subject the Iraqi regime to what he termed a "tough reaction" if it fails to cooperate.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that President Bush plans to force a vote in the U-N Security Council on the Iraq resolution, if the council fails to make substantial progress toward a strict weapons inspection plan by next week.
France and Russia oppose language in the U-S draft they feel could trigger the automatic use of force -- and provide Washington with legal justification for unilateral military action against Iraq.