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Wrapping up visit to Rome, Annan says war in Iraq not inevitable

Wrapping up visit to Rome, Annan says war in Iraq not inevitable

Wrapping up his trip to Rome today, the United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, reiterated his belief that war in Iraq is not inevitable.

“I have maintained that war is not inevitable and that war is always a human catastrophe, and we should exhaust all other possibilities for a peaceful settlement before war is even contemplated,” the Secretary-General told reporters after addressing the 25th anniversary meeting of the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Responding to a question on whether Pope John Paul II had invited him to go to Baghdad, the Secretary-General said that when he met with the Pope yesterday, they did not talk about a visit to Baghdad. However, Mr. Annan said he does plan to go to the Arab League Summit next month.

In the margins of the IFAD meeting, the Mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, presented the Secretary-General with an appeal against a war in Iraq. The appeal was also signed by the mayors of Berlin, Brussels, London, Moscow, Paris, Vienna, Belgrade, Ljubljana and Sarajevo.

Mr. Annan then met with the Minister for Development Cooperation of Sweden, Jan Karlsson, with whom he discussed the link between AIDS and food production, and afterward had a similar discussion with IFAD President Lennart Bage.

The Secretary-General also attended a luncheon hosted by the IFAD President before he left for Paris, where he will address the Africa-France Summit tomorrow.