A special envoy for Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi left Saturday for Iraq with a letter calling on Iraq to fully cooperate with weapons inspections.

Senior Vice Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi met with Qasim Shakir, charge d’affaires ad interim for the Iraqi Embassy in Japan, at Narita airport before his departure.

Motegi also spoke with reporters at the airport, saying, “I will make diplomatic efforts until the last minute. I would like to emphasize to Iraq that there will be a serious situation should Iraq refuse to change its attitude.”

In the morning, Motegi talked by telephone with Hans Blix, head of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission, the Foreign Ministry said.

Blix reportedly told Motegi that Iraq’s acceptance to destroy its short-range ballistic Al Samoud 2 missiles, as ordered by U.N. weapons inspectors, is a significant move toward disarmament.

He added, however, that the seriousness of the issues concerning the other arms in Iraq cannot be diminished, as concerns remain that the country may still have biological and chemical weapons.

Motegi told Blix he plans to urge Iraq to voluntarily destroy its weapons of mass destruction, according to the ministry.

Japan is requesting that Koizumi’s special envoy meet with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and Foreign Minister Naji Sabri.

Motegi will enter Baghdad via Jordan, where he is expected to meet with Jordanian leaders. He will leave Baghdad for Tokyo on Tuesday.

Former Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura will travel to Saudi Arabia and Egypt as part of Japan’s diplomatic efforts toward a peaceful resolution of the Iraqi crisis. Taro Nakayama, also a former foreign minister, will visit Turkey and Syria.

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