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U.N. INSPECTORS HALF DONE VIEWING SADDAM'S PALACES

U.N. arms experts have finished inspecting four of Saddam Hussein's eight presidential compounds and expect to finish their work next week.

Jayantha Dhanapala, head of the diplomatic corps that is accompanying the inspectors, characterized Iraq's cooperation as "positive" but gave few details about what was seen.

"Fifty percent of our job is done," he told reporters today. "I believe in the next week we should be able to complete the visits to all eight presidential sites."

Iraq, which had long kept the palaces off-limits to the inspectors on grounds of national sovereignty, opened them up under a Feb. 23 accord with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The U.N. Special Commission, which oversees the inspections, is seeking information or material related to chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, as well as long-range missiles.

The palace inspections began with the Radwaniyah complex near Baghdad on Thursday and Friday. The inspectors and diplomats visited three more palaces in the north -- in Tikrit, Mosul and Jabal Makhul -- on Saturday and Sunday. They returned to Baghdad early today, one day ahead of schedule.

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