Iraq: This Way Out?

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WASHINGTON: Is Saddam ready to make a deal? The British, whose prime minister arrived in Washington Wednesday, come bearing good news the Iraqi leader is offering access to more presidential sites than ever before, according to Foreign Secretary Robin Cook. The offer made Thursday to a Russian envoy single visits for UNSCOM inspectors to 45 suspect sites was still unacceptable, said Cook, but it was an indication that Iraq "recognizes that we do mean business." Wednesday, they were only offering to open up eight palaces.

The Brits may be optimistic, but the mood at home is a little more wary. "It may be a move to more concessions," says TIME Washington correspondent Douglas Waller, "but right now the U.S. think's it's a cheat and retreat tactic which Saddam has tried before." Indeed, the State Department has little patience with Iraq and such diplomatic stalling, adds Waller, "may even hurry up a military attack."

Crisis in IraqWhich won't please Boris Yeltsin. After stating Wednesday that President Clinton faces a "world war" if he attacks Iraq, the Russian leader added that he would "under no circumstances accept" a strike on Baghdad. Clearly, Saddam still has a friend in the Kremlin indeed, one to whom he owes approximately $10 billion. The only question is whether this friendship will help or hinder Iraq's willingness to negotiate its way out of war.