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U-N Chief Says U-N Must Decide on Iraq - 2003-02-08


U-N Secretary-General Kofi Annan has warned the United States against making war on Iraq unilaterally, saying any decision to use force must be made by the United Nations.

Speaking at a U-S university today (Saturday in Williamsburg, Virginia), Mr. Annan stressed that military force must be used only as a last resort and that U-N approval would give any such action greater legitimacy.

President Bush says the Security Council should act now to force Iraqi disarmament, and says the United States would welcome a U-N resolution authorizing force against the Baghdad government. But says he does not believe it is required.

In Iraq today, the two chief U-N weapons inspectors began crucial talks with top Iraqi officials aimed at gaining Baghdad's compliance with international demands to disarm. The inspectors are due to report to the Security Council next Friday.

Referring to the report, Mr. Annan said the council must face up to its responsibilities, if the inspectors report that Iraq is not complying with an earlier U-N resolution demanding that Baghdad end its program to develop weapons of mass destruction.

Inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei flew into the Iraqi capital today, and met at the Iraqi foreign ministry with a top general and technical teams.

The inspectors are trying to gain greater Iraqi cooperation with ongoing inspections in the country. Their two-day agenda includes efforts to gain new concessions from Baghdad, including permission for overflights by U-S surveillance aircraft. Additionally, the inspectors are seeking Iraqi legislation that would outlaw the banned weapons Baghdad is accused of developing.

Friday, Mr. Blix said Iraq appeared to be making some efforts to cooperate with U-N arms inspectors, but needed to do more. His comments came after inspectors were allowed to interview four Iraqi scientists in private for the first time.

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