U.S. requests expulsion of Iraqi diplomat for spying

Friday, June 14, 2002

Associated Press WriterUNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The United States on Friday asked Iraq to removed one of its U.N. diplomats for "activities incompatible with his diplomatic status," a U.S. official said.

Such language is diplomatic code for espionage.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. mission asked the Iraqi U.N. mission to recall the diplomat, who was not named, by the end of June.

"They have 24 hours to reply to the expulsion request," the official said. "They could indeed challenge it because he's accredited to the U.N.," not to the United States.

The United States broke diplomatic relations with Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the U.N. Mission is Baghdad's only diplomatic presence in the country. According to the latest U.N. directory, Iraq has 16 accredited diplomats led by Ambassador Mohammad Al-Douri.

President Bush wants Iraqi President Saddam Hussein removed from power.

Bush has also warned Saddam that he faces unspecified consequences if he fails to heed American demands that U.N. weapons inspectors be allowed to return to Iraq to verify whether it has dismantled its weapons of mass destruction.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Iraq's Foreign Minister Naji Sabri have held two rounds of inconclusive talks aimed at returning the inspectors, who left Iraq 3 1/2 years ago and have been barred from returning. A third round of talks is scheduled in Vienna on July 4-5.

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