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CNN BREAKING NEWS

U.N. Withdraws Workers

Aired March 17, 2003 - 12:35   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We take you live to the -- to the U.N. right now. Kofi Annan speaking.
KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: ... humanitarian workers. We will withdraw the UNIKOM troops on the Iraq- Kuwaiti border who are also not able to operate.

Implication of these withdrawals will mean that the mandates will be suspended because they will be inoperable. We cannot, for example, handle the oil-for-food when we do not have inspectors to monitor the imports. We do not have oil inspectors who will monitor exports of oil. And we don't have the humanitarian personnel who would monitor the receipt and distribution of the food supplies. So I have informed the council of these suspensions.

This does not mean that should war come to Iraq that the U.N. will sit back and not do anything to help the Iraqi population. We will find a way of resuming our humanitarian activities to help the Iraqi people who have suffered for so long and do whatever we can to give them assistance and support. And as you know, we have undertaken major contingency planning to be able to move forward as soon as we can.

QUESTION: Did you get an authorization from the Security Council to withdraw these inspectors or did you use the measures you have available to you, temporary relocation of the inspectors?

ANNAN: It is a relocation of the inspectors. And the council has taken note of my decision.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary General, should the United States go ahead, and its allies, and use military action against Iraq without U.N. Security Council authorization, will that be a violation of international law, according to you?

ANNAN: I think my position on that is very clear. And the council will have to discuss that also.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary General, what is your position on the 1441? Is it legal or not legal?

ANNAN: I think I have made my position very clear on that. And I have indicated to you that if...

(CROSSTALK)

ANNAN: I have made it very clear that, in my judgment, if the council were to be able to manage this process successfully and muster the collective will to handle this operation, its own reputation and credibility will have been enhanced. And I've also said if the action is to take place without the support of the council, its legitimacy will be questioned and the support for it will be diminished.

COOPER: You are listening to a press conference being given by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan live at the United Nations. We are anticipating, after this, hearing from Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the British ambassador to the United Nations, also our own Richard Roth, of course, is standing by to talk more about this. We will bring you more of this as events warrant.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com




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