Kofi Annan, the secretary-general, said the three would not negotiate whether American arms inspectors will be allowed to stay a point U.N. officials insist is not negotiable.
The teams goal is to discuss with the Iraqis a firm implementation of the U.N. resolution permitting the inspectors to determine whether Iraq has destroyed illegal weapons, Annan said.
The team consists of diplomats from Algeria, Sweden and Argentina.
Iraqs refusal to allow American inspectors has deepened the crisis between the United Nations and Iraq, which has charged the Americans on the U.N. teams were spies and were trying to delay the lifting of economic sanctions imposed for its 1990 occupation of Kuwait. A U.S.-led coalition drove Iraq from the emirate in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
Maj. Gen. Nils Carlstrom, the Swedish head of the U.N. monitoring office in Baghdad, said today that a missile inspection team that included at least one American expert was told by Iraqi officials that inspectors from the United States were no longer allowed to work in Iraq.
After the incident, Carlstrom said the missile team and two other inspection groups sent out this morning returned to their headquarters at a hotel in the Iraqi capital. It was not immediately clear how many of the seven American inspectors in Baghdad were involved.
Carlstrom said there were no threats at all, and the only thing was that we were told that the Americans were not allowed, so the inspection was called off.
He added that the inspectors were awaiting further directives from U.N. headquarters in New York.
Reporters were barred from the area around the Canal House Hotel, where
the inspectors are headquartered. And, as usual, they were not allowed
to accompany the teams that headed out at mid-morning and returned an
hour and 15 minutes later.