- The Washington Times - Friday, February 14, 2003

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Feb. 14 (UPI) — Lebanese President Emile Lahoud Friday called on the U.N. Security Council to give Iraq an additional chance to comply with resolutions calling for its disarmament, and said Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's decision to ban the production and importation of weapons of mass destruction was "an advanced step."

Commenting on the Security Council's ongoing meeting on the Iraqi crisis, Lahoud said U.N. chief inspectors Hans Blix and Mohammed ElBaradei have submitted reports in the last two weeks confirming Iraq's cooperation with the international inspectors.

He also called for paving the way for the inspectors "to continue their work without pressures that affect their neutrality."

Lahoud also lauded Saddam's decision early Friday to ban the production or importation of weapons of mass destruction as "an advanced step" for implementing U.N. Resolution 1441, which was adopted nov. 8 and gives the country a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations.

"The accused is innocent until proven guilty," said Lahoud. "The international community should respect this principle to establish justice and respect laws."

He warned that the alternative to implementing Resolution 1441 was "drowning the region in a state of war that would benefit no one, not even those who beat the war drums."

Lahoud said the peaceful solution to the Iraqi crisis was to protect world stability and "give the proof that the international system is able to solve emergency problems."

Otherwise, he warned the world will plunge into "an overwhelming chaos" that could not be controlled.

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