• Kyodo

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A special Japanese envoy, meeting Monday with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, urged Baghdad to destroy all weapons of mass destruction or show evidence that it no longer has any banned arms — or else face a possible U.S.-led military attack.

“The time has become critical. The Iraqi government should make a major political judgment,” Senior Vice Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi was quoted as telling Aziz.

Motegi, visiting Baghdad as Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s special envoy, handed Aziz a personal letter from Koizumi to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The letter carried the same message Motegi delivered verbally to Aziz.

Aziz told Motegi that Iraq realizes the disarmament issue has reached a critical stage and reiterated that it has been cooperating fully with U.N. instructors.

According to a senior Foreign Ministry official traveling with Motegi, the envoy pointed out that U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix has deemed Iraq’s cooperation as inadequate and told Aziz that Iraq must cooperate fully before he makes a followup report to the U.N. Security Council this Friday.

Aziz told Motegi that France and other countries want the Security Council to give U.N. inspectors more time and argued that the U.S.-backed resolution now before the Security Council is intended to pave the way for the U.S. to attack Iraq and control its oil fields.

Commenting on Japan’s support for the U.S., Aziz said Tokyo has the right to do what it wants but the government should think carefully about whether its position serves Japanese interests.

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