No immediate prospect for Iraq ceasefire - Annan

No immediate prospect for Iraq ceasefire - Annan

Kofi Annan
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said he does not see any immediate prospect for a ceasefire in the war in Iraq.

"I wish I could say there is an immediate prospect for a ceasefire, and that an appeal from the Security Council will lead to a ceasefire," Mr. Annan said in an interview yesterday with Al Jazeera television. "I don't think that is that case."

He reiterated his view that "war is a human catastrophe, and in fact in war, all are losers."

Questioned about the war's legitimacy, he noted that the Security Council had not endorsed it. "And that is why the legitimacy of this action has been questioned, and widely questioned, and I myself have raised questions about it," he said. "I have raised questions about the legitimacy and whether it was in conformity with the Charter."

Asked whether this meant he condemned the war, the Secretary-General replied: "I think, in my statement in the Council I made it quite clear that we would have preferred that it should be done peacefully and that we wouldn't have had to through what we are going through. I have never justified nor supported this war."

On the humanitarian situation in Iraq, the Secretary-General reiterated the responsibility of the belligerent parties for the welfare of the population in the areas they control, and added: "As soon as the situation permits, we will be back doing our work."

The Secretary-General emphasized that the nature and extent of any future UN role in Iraq would have to be discussed by the Security Council. But he asserted: "I have no doubt that, regardless of how this war ends, the UN will have an important role to play."