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Annan: U.S. should seek consensus on Iraq

Chief inspectors hold 'substantial' talks in Baghdad

Kofi Annan speaks to a crowd Saturday at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

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Saturday and Sunday: Blix and ElBaradei hold talks with senior Iraqi officials.
Monday: Deadline for NATO decision on whether to plan Turkey's defense in case if Iraq conflict.
Friday: Blix and ElBaradei present reports to U.N. Security Council.
February 18: Turkish parliament votes on whether to let U.S. use its bases for war with Iraq.

WILLIAMSBURG, Virginia (CNN) -- U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Saturday that the issue of Iraqi disarmament is "not for any one state but for the international community as a whole," and urged the United States to seek consensus before taking military action against Baghdad.

In a speech marking the 310th anniversary of the College of William and Mary, Annan said, "When states decide to use force, not in self-defense but to deal with broader threats to international peace and security, there is no substitute for the unique legitimacy provided by the Security Council."

Annan added that the United Nations is successful when there is strong U.S. leadership "exercised through patient diplomatic persuasion and coalition-building."

His remarks come in the wake of two statements in two days by President Bush challenging other Security Council members to back military action against Iraq if Saddam Hussein's regime does not disarm itself of chemical, nuclear and biological weapons. Iraq has denied possessing any such arms.

"We all need to understand that the United Nations is not a separate or alien entity, seeking to impose its will and agenda on others. The United Nations is us; it is you and me. It is a global alliance," Annan said.

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel responded to Annan's speech for the Bush administration, saying "Our position with respect to the goal of the U.N. and enforcing [Security Council Resolution] 1441 is quite clear."

But Annan also noted that the threat of U.S.-led military action persuaded the Iraqi government to re-admit U.N. weapons inspectors and, in an echo of Bush's statements, the secretary-general warned Iraq that if it failed to make use of "this last chance, and continues its defiance, the council will have [to] make another grim choice, based on the findings of the inspectors ... When that time comes, the council must face up to its responsibilities." (Full story)

Baghdad talks run long

In Baghdad, International Atomic Energy Agency director Mohamed ElBaradei and Hans Blix, head of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, met with Iraqi presidential science adviser Gen. Amir al-Saadi for 4 1/2 hours -- an hour and a half longer than expected.

ElBaradei said talks with the Iraqis covered issues including U-2 surveillance flights, private interviews with scientists and "outstanding issues of chemical and biological missiles" -- the areas U.S. officials say prove that Iraq is not complying with U.N. resolutions.

"We are going through many of the issues, outstanding disarmament issues," ElBaradei said. "The Iraqi side is providing explanation on some of the issues ... We are discussing, but we have to wait until tomorrow."

Blix called the talks "substantial" and "useful."(Full story)

The pair are to present their third report to the Security Council on Friday.

Earlier, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld tried to make the U.S. case that additional time for inspections would be fruitless.

Rumsfeld, speaking at an annual security conference in Munich, Germany, warned that the world must "prevent an attack before it happens, not to wait.

"Let me be clear, no one wants war. War is never a first or an easy choice, but the risks of war [are] to be balanced against the risks of doing nothing, while Iraq pursues the tools of mass destruction," he said. (Full story)

Rumsfeld also lashed out at NATO for stalling plans to deploy forces to protect Turkey -- the alliance's only Muslim member -- in the event that Turkey was threatened during any military action against neighboring Iraq. Turkey has agreed to allow the United States to upgrade its bases and ports for possible use in such a conflict.

The Turkish parliament is scheduled to vote February 18 on whether to allow U.S. troops to use the bases.

In response to Rumsfeld's statement regarding military action against Iraq, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said that though he agreed with much of what the defense secretary said, he was unconvinced that the timing of an attack was correct.

Also Saturday, U.N. inspectors visited at least six sites, according to Iraq's Ministry of Information.

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