Baghdad's Birthday Hopes Dashed

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Having failed to win an end to sanctions in time for his birthday, Saddam Hussein today had to console himself with lesser gifts -- the arrival in Baghdad of Hollywood action man Val Kilmer with a pile of humanitarian aid, and the news that yesterday’s Iraq discussion left the U.N. Security Council sharply divided.

The issue of halting nuclear inspections divided the U.S. and Britain from France, Russia and China: “Even though everyone agrees there’s no nuclear threat, the U.S. doesn’t want to stop nuclear inspections for fear that it might create pressure for UNSCOM to wrap up biowarfare inspections,” says TIME U.N. correspondent William Dowell.

For ordinary Iraqis, however, there was little comfort: Messages broadcast on Baghdad’s streets this morning intoned, “Happy birthday to you, Saddam Hussein! May God add from our age to yours!”