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ENVOY HOPES TO END STANDOFF

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U.N. envoy Rolf Ekeus began a personal effort Thursday to resolve a standoff with Baghdad over monitoring missile test sites. The West has threatened military strikes if Iraq does not back down.

Ekeus, chairman of the U.N. commission overseeing the destruction of Iraq's most powerful weapons, will talk with a number of Iraqi officials before leaving Sunday to report to the U.N. Security Council.The Security Council warned Iraq on June 18 it faced "serious consequences" if it didn't cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors. Iraq is required to surrender its weapons of mass destruction under the Persian Gulf War cease-fire provisions.