- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 1, 2002

BAGHDAD Visiting U.S. lawmakers urged both Iraq and the United States yesterday not to interfere in the inspections process, adding that war is not the only way out of the crisis.
"There is a way to solve this crisis without war. It is for the Iraqis not to interfere and for the United States not to interfere in the inspections process," Rep. David E. Bonior, Michigan Democrat, said at a news conference.
Rep. Jim McDermott, the Washington Democrat who has suggested that the Bush administration may be misleading the American public on the dangers posed by Iraq, said the U.S. goal should be disarmament, not the ouster of Saddam Hussein.
"The American people are not with one voice on Iraq, and they are debating about it like the rest of the world," Mr. McDermott said.
"Regime change requires war. Disarming can be done diplomatically," he said.
President Bush, accusing Saddam of stockpiling weapons of mass destruction and harboring terrorists, has argued that it is impossible to disarm Iraq while its leader remains in power.
After blocking the return of U.N. weapons inspectors for four years, Saddam said Sept. 16 that they could return and conduct "unfettered" inspections.
Since then, however, Iraq has said the inspectors would be limited by a side agreement Saddam negotiated in 1998 with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The agreement considerably limits the scope of inspections.
In Vienna, Austria, yesterday, the United Nations began testing Iraq's cooperativeness, opening talks with Iraqi officials on inspection logistics.
Chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix told reporters that the talks would operate under the assumption that nothing in Iraq would be off-limits to inspectors, who are hunting for nuclear, biological and chemical weaponry.
Arriving in Ankara, the Turkish capital, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz told reporters that "Iraq will help [weapons inspectors] to find out the truth through scientific methods."
The United States considers Turkish support crucial for military action against Iraq. Turkey hosts U.S. and British warplanes at the southern Incirlik air base, which served as a staging point for air raids on Iraq during the 1991 Persian Gulf war. So far, Turkey has said it opposes a strike against Iraq.
In Baghdad, Mr. Bonior said access should be unrestricted "because both the U.S. government and Congress are serious about the need for such access, and they are very serious about enforcing that."
Mr. Bonior, Mr. McDermott and a third Democrat, Mike Thompson of California, arrived in Baghdad on Sept. 27, saying their intention was to gather information about Iraq's humanitarian crisis and make Iraqi officials understand that if they want to prevent war, they have to allow immediate and unfettered access to U.N. weapons inspectors.

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