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Annan looking forward to Bush speech at UN next week

Annan looking forward to Bush speech at UN next week

The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, today said he was looking forward to a speech by President George Bush of the United States to the UN General Assembly when its annual high-level debate opens on 12 September.

“I think we can all look forward to hearing what he is going to say,” the Secretary-General told the press in Paris following a meeting he had with French President Jacques Chirac. According to a UN spokesman, the President briefed the Secretary-General on a phone conversation he had had with President Bush on Iraq, and the two discussed the situation in that country in some detail.

In his comments to reporters, the Secretary-General said he had indicated that it would be unwise to attack Iraq now, and would raise international tensions, and added that President Bush and his team would bear that in mind.

“I was encouraged yesterday when he said that he will consult the international community,” Mr. Annan said. “I hope that will also include the Security Council, which is at the centre of that community.”

Asked if the UN should set a deadline for the return of weapons inspectors to Iraq, he replied, “I think this is something the Security Council will have to decide.”

The Secretary-General added that, in his recent meetings with Iraqi leaders, he had encouraged them to accept the return of inspectors. “Many heads of State, including many in the Middle East, are encouraging them to do that,” he noted.

During Mr. Annan’s meeting with President Chirac, the two also discussed the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people, which was described in a recent report by the Secretary-General’s Personal Humanitarian Envoy, Catherine Bertini.

Among other subjects, the Secretary-General and the French President also discussed the situation between Cameroon and Nigeria, Chad, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Colombia, the spokesman reported.