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Annan takes Baghdad’s letter as Iraqi acceptance

Annan takes Baghdad’s letter as Iraqi acceptance

Kofi Annan
Secretary-General Kofi Annan today confirmed receipt of a letter from Baghdad accepting new United Nations weapons inspections in Iraq.

Speaking at a press conference with US President George W. Bush in Washington, D.C., Mr. Annan thanked the US leader for working through the UN Security Council on the Iraq issue.

"The Council decision, which was unanimous, sent a powerful message that the entire international community would like to see the Security Council resolution implemented," he said.

The Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), Hans Blix, will be in Iraq on Monday with his team, and they will "actively begin their work," the Secretary-General added.

Noting that the resolution was adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter - which allows for enforcement - Mr. Annan said the text "must be implemented."

The Secretary-General also said he shared President Bush's view that "every region, and people of every State, have also been victims of terrorism - this is a scourge that affects all of us, regardless of region or religion, and we need to stand together to defeat terrorism."

The UN's work, and effective implementation of its resolution 1373 - the landmark text adopted following the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US - is "absolutely crucial" in this fight, the Secretary-General said. "We need to work to deprive terrorists of their opportunities, by not giving them haven, by not giving them financial and logistical support, and I think the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the Security Council is doing a good job in trying to make sure we all work together on that."

The press conference preceded a half-hour meeting between the two leaders at the White House.

In remarks to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Annan stressed that beyond accepting the resolution, Iraq must implement it. "It's their performance on the ground" that counts, he said, urging Baghdad to cooperate with the inspectors. "That is the real test we are all waiting for."

Speaking to the press after arriving back in New York this evening, the Secretary-General again stressed that it is too soon to anticipate how events will unfold. “I don’t want to make any predictions at this stage, but what is important is that they have said yes, and the inspectors will be on their way,” he said.

Earlier today, the Secretary-General was at the University of Maryland, where he received an honorary doctorate and also delivered the Anwar Sadat Memorial Lecture.

Yesterday afternoon, after arriving in Washington, D.C., the Secretary-General discussed Iraq and other topics during a meeting with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, according to a UN spokesman.

The talks also touched on political and humanitarian aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian issue, Cyprus, Côte d'Ivoire, Nigeria-Cameroon territorial issues, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, and US-UN issues, such as funding for the UN Population Fund and the Capital Master Plan which aims to refurbish UN premises, the spokesman reported. Mr. Annan also thanked Mr. Powell for US efforts to pay its arrears to the United Nations.

At a joint press conference after their meeting, the Secretary-General was asked whether Iraq is getting imports that it should not because of loopholes in the UN "oil-for-food" programme. "It is not excluded that there may be items which are for civilian use but may have other uses that may get through, but we try to ensure that any items that could be put to military use and are of military importance are kept out," he replied.



- Secretary-General's comments on Iraq