Annan, Iraq sign weapons-inspection deal
In this story:
February 23, 1998
Web posted at: 4:49 a.m. EST (0949 GMT)
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and
Iraq signed a breakthrough deal Monday that allows U.N. arms
monitors full access to suspected Iraqi weapon sites,
including the presidential palaces that have been at the
heart of the four-month standoff.
"I am pleased to announce that after detailed and intensive
discussions with the Iraqi authorities, culminating in the
meeting with President Saddam Hussein on Sunday afternoon, I
have concluded an agreement with the government of Iraq on
the issue of the United Nations weapons inspections," Annan
said in a joint news conference with Iraqi Deputy Prime
Minister Tariq Aziz Monday afternoon.
Annan said he believed the agreement was balanced for every
party involved and that he would present it to the Security
Council Tuesday immediately on his return from Baghdad.
Annan (left) and Aziz at a Baghdad news conference
||Sound clips from the press conference:
Annan: "Let's look forward and move on."
AIFF or WAV
(740 K / 34 sec. audio)
Aziz: "We are going to work together in good faith and cooperation..."
AIFF or WAV
(416 K / 17 sec. audio)
The secretary-general said there are "no time limits or
deadlines in the agreement" on the inspection of presidential
"We will try to do our work in a reasonable period," he said.
The United States had vigorously opposed such a limit, and
agreement on that point reportedly was clinched only when
Annan met Hussein for three hours Sunday afternoon.
Aziz added: "This is an agreement of reason and as the
secretary-general said, it is balanced, it is in conformity
with U.N. resolutions."
Annan and Aziz signed the agreement in a brief ceremony at
the Foreign Ministry, which the Iraqi News Agency said took place at 10.25 a.m. (0725
GMT). The government limited coverage of the signing only to
U.N. officials and Iraqi government reporters.
The crisis over weapons inspections has brought the Gulf to
the brink of war, with the United States sending a naval
armada and 25,000 troops to the region to mount possible air
Washington wants to review fine print
U.N. and Iraqi officials provided few details of the accord,
which the United States has yet to approve. Washington has
said it wants to review the fine print of the deal before
In the joint news conference broadcast live on Iraqi
television, Annan -- asked when U.N. sanctions imposed on
Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War might be lifted -- said it would
depend on the completion of the work by U.N. weapons
Asked if he believed the crisis would repeat itself, Annan
said: "I genuinely believe if we do the things we say we will
do, we won't have that kind of crisis."
Earlier in the day, Annan had described the sanctions and
Iraq's mistrust of the United Nations as a key sticking point
"(Iraq's) sense is that the sanctions have gone on long
enough and that whatever they do does not seem to be enough
-- and that we keep asking for more and more and more and
more without giving them any credit ... for the progress they
make," he said.
'Give diplomacy a chance'
Aziz, dressed in a green military uniform, expressed Iraq's
gratitude toward Annan and praised him for seeking a
diplomatic resolution to the standoff.
"We highly appreciate the nature of the discussions we had
... and we happily reached a final agreement," Aziz said. "We
are going to work together in good faith and full
Asked if the threat of a U.S.-led military strike helped or
hindered the discussions, Aziz said: "The military buildup in
the Gulf does not scare the people and the leadership of
"What helped in reaching this agreement between the
secretary-general, my president and the Iraqi government is
the goodwill (Annan) brought with him ... not the policy of
Added Annan: "Many leaders around the world and in this
region, and ordinary people, have pleaded with us: Give
diplomacy a chance."
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