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Annan implores Iraq, cautions White House

Kofi Annan addresses the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday.
Kofi Annan addresses the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday.  


UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan told Iraq on Thursday to stop defying the United Nations and allow the return of weapons inspectors "for the sake of its own people and for the sake of world order."

"If Iraq's defiance continues, the Security Council must face its responsibilities," Annan said in a speech to delivered Thursday to the 57th U.N. General Assembly.

But the secretary-general also had a message for the United States, saying countries do have a right to self-defense, but no U.N. member nation "large or small" should act alone on major global issues as "a simple matter of political convenience."

"It has consequences far beyond the immediate context," he said. "When states decide to use force to deal with broader threats to international peace and security, there is no substitute for the unique legitimacy provided by the United Nations."

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Annan's speech outlined what he called "four current threats to world peace:" Iraq, the crisis in the Middle East, tensions between India and Pakistan, and the continued instability in Afghanistan.

With much of the international community voicing opposition to military strikes on Iraq, Annan said the "primary criterion for putting an issue" before the Security Council "should not be the receptiveness of the parties, but the existence of a grave threat to world peace."

"The leadership of Iraq continues to defy mandatory resolutions adopted by the Security Council," Annan said.

The secretary-general said he has "engaged Iraq in an in-depth discussion on a range of issues," including the need for the return of weapons inspectors.

"Efforts to obtain Iraq's compliance with the council's resolutions must continue," he said.

"I appeal to all who have influence with Iraq's leaders to impress on them the vital importance of accepting the weapons inspections. This is the indispensable first step towards assuring the world that all Iraq's weapons of mass destruction have indeed been eliminated.

"And let me stress towards the suspension and eventual ending of the sanctions that are causing so many hardships for the Iraqi people. I urge Iraq to comply with its obligations for the sake of its own people and for the sake of world order."

Annan delivered the speech Thursday morning before President Bush's address to the U.N. General Assembly. Security was extremely tight, with at least six blocks around the building closed off. The United Nations described the security as "at the highest level."

An FBI bulletin said there were no specific threats against the United Nations, but "such an event in New York City within the general time frame of the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, represents a potentially attractive target for terrorists."

More highlights from the speech included:

  • Middle East: Annan said the United Nations "must return to the search for a just and comprehensive solution" to the Middle East crisis. He said U.N. resolutions have long spelled out the "ultimate shape" of a peace settlement: "land for peace; an end to terror and to occupation; two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side within secure and recognized borders.... Both parties accept this vision. But we can reach it only if we move rapidly and in parallel on all fronts. The so-called 'sequential' approach has failed," Annan said.
  • Afghanistan: He urged "leaders of the international community to maintain your commitment to Afghanistan." He welcomed new Afghan President Hamid Karzai to the assembly and said his country needs help in two primary areas: Help to "extend its authority throughout the country" and the need for nations to "follow through on their commitment to help with rehabilitation, reconstruction and development." "Otherwise, the Afghan people will lose hope -- and desperation, we know, breeds violence."
  • India-Pakistan tensions: He said the two South Asia nations recently came "closer than for many years past to a direct conflict between two nuclear weapon capable countries." He thanked member states for helping find an immediate solution, but said the international community may have a role to play should "a fresh crisis" erupt. "The situation may now have calmed a little, but it remains perilous," he said.


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