- The Washington Times - Monday, July 1, 2002

Inspections in Iraq
Secretary-General Kofi Annan will hold another round of talks with Iraqi officials this week. This will be the third, and Mr. Annan hopes "definitive," attempt to jump-start the long-stalled weapons inspections.
Officials will sit down in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday and Friday to go through a narrowly defined agenda of inspections and the return of Kuwaiti property seized by Iraq during the 1990 invasion.
U.S. officials are openly skeptical that Iraq will invite the inspectors to return and work freely.
"I can't handicap that right now because we will see what happens when the Iraqis meet with Kofi Annan," Secretary of State Colin L .Powell said. "So far, they have not been very forthcoming."
U.N. officials are mildly make that very mildly optimistic.
Mr. Annan will be joined by Hans Blix, executive chairman of the U.N. Monitoring, Observation and Verification Commission, and Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
In a sign that there might be some movement on returning Kuwaiti archives and property, Yuli Vorontsov, the U.N. coordinator for repatriating Kuwaiti people and property, also will participate, U.N. sources said last week.
Returning Kuwaiti spoils is one of the often overlooked conditions for lifting the decade-old sanctions against Iraq.
Arab League leader Amr Moussa said in May that Iraq wants to return nearly 90 percent of the archives taken after it invaded Kuwait in 1990. Diplomatic sources told the Associated Press that Iraq is prepared to return about 2 tons of material.
It's not yet clear what kind of movement can be reasonably expected on weapons inspections.
The Iraqi Cabinet declared two weeks ago that the sanctions must be lifted before the inspectors are allowed to return a position Baghdad has held since the inspectors left more than three years ago.
There have been no inspections since December 1998, when the monitors were withdrawn in advance of U.S. bombing.
The Iraqis also have been demanding clarification of the U.N. position regarding Washington's threats to topple Saddam. U.N. officials indicated last week that Mr. Annan would not discuss the matter.

UNAIDS faults China
As many as 1.5 million Chinese are infected by HIV, according a new U.N. study warning that the world's most populous country could be "on the verge of a catastrophe."
The report, by Geneva-based UNAIDS, said that while the overall rate of infection in China is low, it has reached explosive levels in some rural areas of the country. AIDS is spread in rural China primarily through contaminated needles used in illegal blood sales.
"At the dawn of the third millennium, China is on the verge of a catastrophe that could result in unimaginable human suffering, economic loss, and social devastation," said the report, titled "HIV/AIDS: China's Titanic Peril."
The agency blamed Beijing's complex bureaucracy, insufficient resources, crumbling public health system and lack of political commitment for what it described as a slow response to the threat.
The Chinese government last week rejected the conclusions of the report, which was prepared with cooperation and statistics from Beijing, saying UNAIDS had not looked at the problem from all angles.
"I think the information they have is not sufficient and cannot be fully trusted," Sun Xinhua, division chief of disease control for the Ministry of Health, told reporters.
The report contended that awareness in China of AIDS and HIV transmission is still minimal.
"Millions of Chinese have never heard the word AIDS. Many still think that one can contract HIV from mosquito bites or from shaking hands. Even so there are already villages where the greater part of the population is infected," said the report.

Expansion in Geneva
The World Health Organization soon will begin construction of a $37 million office building to share with UNAIDS. The facility, to be occupied by 2005, will adjoin the WHO and mainly will house the activities of the bustling AIDS office.
An Austrian architectural firm, Baumschlager & Eberle, submitted the design chosen for the 480-desk building. The jury selected it for its "highly contemporary, abstract and spacious design."
Betsy Pisik can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]

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