Annan's delay of D.C. trip seen as smart politics
Kofi Annan and Saddam Hussein
In this story;
February 27, 1998
Web posted at: 10:48 p.m. EST (0348 GMT)
From Correspondent Ralph Begleiter
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Clinton administration officials and other diplomats in Washington say political expediency -- at the United Nations and in Washington -- is the reason U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has postponed his trip to Washington next week.
Officials and diplomats agree that Annan's presence in New York next week when the Security Council votes on a resolution supporting his recent agreement with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein may be necessary to assure a strong, affirmative vote.
But Clinton administration officials also say that a visit by Annan to Washington next week could have undermined an accord, given the Republican objections to the deal.
Intent on unanimous vote
Sources tell CNN that Annan, the United States, Britain and France are intent on a unanimous vote to codify Annan's agreement with Iraq on weapons inspections. They say a unanimous vote would give the agreement strong credibility and send a clear message to the Iraqi leader that the U.N. will insist on compliance.
Diplomatic sources say members of the Security Council such as China and Russia, who oppose the use of force against Iraq, might have a harder time voting against Annan's deal if he is in the chamber.
Sources also say that any political glow Annan anticipated in Washington next week would have been overshadowed by criticism of the United Nations by members of Congress. Many of them oppose paying off the U.N. dues because they think the United Nations is inefficient and over-staffed.
State Department officials say those concerns were not discussed with Annan as plans for his visit were being made. They say his presence in the Security Council chamber during a vote on the Baghdad accord is reason enough for him to postpone his visit.
Credibility at stake
Diplomatic sources say the vote will be widely seen as a vote as much on Annan's credibility as on the deal itself.
Annan, who was the Clinton administration's choice to succeed Boutros Boutros-Ghali as the secretary-general, is considered the key to future dealings with Iraq and in other world crises.