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Saddam ready to accept U.N. resolution: Arab League

CAIRO NOV. 10. Despite official Iraqi silence, Arab Ministers indicated today that the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, was ready to accept a United Nations resolution to disarm, with Syria's Foreign Minister assuring Arab Governments that the document would not be interpreted as authorisation for American military force.

The Iraqi Foreign Minister, Naji Sabri, said on Saturday that "no decision has been taken", but other Arab diplomats at a late night meeting of the Arab League here said that in effect Iraq had already accepted the resolution. As he entered today's meeting, Mr. Sabri said the Arab Governments were firm in rejecting the use of force by the U.S. However, the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Maher, said earlier this morning, "I think we can expect a positive position by the Iraqis."

The Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, indicated that Iraq would accept the resolution that dictated the return of arms inspectors. "They (Arab Ministers) welcomed Iraq's approval of this resolution with the confirmation Syria received that there would be no automatic military action," he said.

Syria, whose agreement to the U.N. Security Council resolution allowed for the 15-0 passage on Friday, defended its vote. "We have struggled and shouldered a lot of difficulties to bring about the resolution," the Syrian Foreign Minister, Farouk al-Sharaa, said.

Mr. Al-Sharaa said he had received a letter from the U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell "in which he stressed that there is nothing in the resolution to allow it to be used as a pretext to launch a war on Iraq and that if the U.S. administration had any intention of resorting to military action, this resolution wouldn't have taken seven weeks."

The Lebanese Foreign Minister, Mahmoud Hammoud, said Arabs should "use Syria's voting in favour of the U.N. Security Council resolution on Iraq as a solid evidence to affirm our collective desire to free the region from the weapons of mass destruction". In Washington, the U.S. President, George W. Bush, said the resolution "presents the Iraqi regime with a test, a final test". Iraq, he said, must now cooperate with U.N. inspectors and dismantle its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons capabilities. The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying the resolution "does not contain a mechanism for the use of force".

In Baghdad, Mr. Hussein called an emergency Parliament session to debate the U.N. resolution, the state television reported today. It would debate the position to be taken and would submit its conclusions to the ruling Revolution Command Council.

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