Inspectors are leaving Cyprus

LARNACA (AFP) – UN arms inspectors are leaving Cyprus after being evacuated from Baghdad hours before the US-led war began, but the rear base here remains open for them to return to a postwar Iraq to complete their task, a spokesman said yesterday. «Inspectors are now leaving Cyprus and most will be gone in the next few days, but a minimum staff will remain to keep the Larnaca office operational,» United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) spokesman Hiro Ueki told AFP. «Contracts are being honored in case we need to assemble a team quickly and are called on to go back (to Iraq) in some capacity,» he added. The future role of inspectors in Iraq, if any, will depend on what kind of role is given to the UN by the Security Council after the conflict, said Ueki. In the meantime, UNMOVIC is «consolidating» inspection reports and keeping its data base in good shape. «Work at the rear base will continue, as there are still procedures to follow,» Ueki said. The inspection agencies have maintained a support base on Cyprus centered at Larnaca’s Flamingo Hotel since the beginning of their mission. All foreign employees of the United Nations were evacuated out of Iraq and shuttled to Larnaca on March 18, two days before the US-led bombing campaign began on Baghdad.

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