U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has struck a deal with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein that apparently would avert a U.S. military strike on Iraq, Annan's spokesman said.
|Return to Showdown in the Gulf|
"We think this agreement faithfully fulfills the two criteria we set for ourselves at the beginning," Eckhard said. "Full respect for the Security Council Resolutions on Iraq, and preserving the integrity of the UNSCOM inspection process."
That most likely means weapons inspectors will be allowed into eight disputed presidential sites, but diplomats from the five permanent members of the Security Council would accompany them, CBS News Correspondent Vicki Mabrey reported from Baghdad.
Annan and Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, met late Sunday to agree on the precise wording of an agreement the secretary-general will take back to the Security Council.
CBS News Correspondent Mike Wallace, who is traveling with Annan in Baghdad, said that Annan apparently got the deal he was hoping for. If that's the case, the five permanent members of the Security Council are aware of the deal and go along with it, Wallace said. He added that Annan is scheduled to fly back to New York on Tuesday to meet with the Security Council.
Going into the talks, the major sticking point for U.N. officials was a 60-day time limit sought by Iraq. The U.N. Security Council had required full, unfettered access to the sites. A deal most likely means that this issue has been resolved.
The crisis over weapons inspections had brought the Persian Gulf to the brink of war.
The United States sent a naval armada and 25,000 troops to the region to mount air strikes unless Iraq agrees to open all sites, including eight presidential palaces, to the U.N. weapons inspectors.
Any deal must be endorsed by Washington, which has said it would refuse an agreement that it believes undermines the inspectors' authority. The United States has yet to comment on the Annan deal.
Prior to news of the agreement, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Bill Richardson said on Face the Nation that "the 60-day limit would be a serious problem."
"We want diplomacy to work," Richardson said. "But. . .the United States feels that these are principles that Saddam Hussein has to comply with."
During his stay in Baghdad, Annan has been in touch with a number of leaders including the representatives of the Security Council's five permanent members.
Other key develpments in the Iraq crisis:
- Iraq's parliament sent a memorandum on Sunday to members of the Security Council, urging them to prevent the United States from using force.
- The spokesman of the weapons inspection team, Alan Dacey, said experts for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons went out as usual to conduct their examinations of various non-controversial sites Sunday.
- The State Department, meanwhile, issued a warning to Americans in Iraq to "depart as soon as possible." The White House said the warning was routine and doesn't mean military action was imminent.
- Pro-Iraq protests erupted across the Arab world. Jordan had to send out tanks in one desert city to contain them and sent Israelis scurrying for gas masks and diplomats there preparing to leave.
©1998, CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report