Annan to Meet With Bush and Powell on Iraq
(CNSNews.com) - United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is in Washington Tuesday to meet with President George Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell, with time running out for Saddam Hussein to agree to a U.N. resolution that orders Iraq to get rid of its weapons of mass destruction.
A U.N. spokesman said Annan would be honored Tuesday night at a United Nations Association dinner in Washington. He will meet with Powell at State Department headquarters before the dinner.
On Wednesday, Annan will travel to the University of Maryland to deliver the annual "Anwar el-Sadat Memorial Lecture." His speech is expected to focus on the current state of Middle East peace efforts. He will also receive an honorary doctorate.
After the university lecture, Annan will return to Washington for a meeting with the president at the White House and then return to New York.
On Tuesday morning, Annan told reporters at U.N. headquarters, he is still awaiting Baghdad's formal reply to last Friday's Security Council resolution aimed at returning weapons inspectors to Iraq.
Asked by reporters to react to the vote of the Iraqi Parliament to oppose the inspections, he said, "I'm waiting for a formal response from the government. I don't think the Iraqi Parliament was talking to me. I think it was addressed to the people of Iraq."
Annan stressed that Iraq is expected to comply with the Security Council requirements, which he called "very clear." He also noted that the council's decision was unanimous and had been endorsed by the Arab League. "I hope the message will get through," he said.
Saddam Hussein has until Friday to agree to the terms of the U.N. resolution, with Annan waiting for word from the Iraqi dictator. "I am expecting that letter," Annan said Tuesday.
Iraq would then have to declare, within 30 days, its holdings of weapons of mass destruction, he noted. An advance team of U.N. arms inspectors is scheduled to arrive in the country on Nov. 18.
"The Security Council resolution becomes effective from day one, the moment it is approved," Annan pointed out.
Although Annan acknowledged there has been some impatience over the pace of U.N. action with regard to Iraq, he insisted the resolution was "a grave decision and I'm happy they took their time to discuss it and in the end come up with the best possible decision," he said.
Amid reports that Israel might deport Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, the secretary-general said he hoped this would not come to pass. He noted that many governments around the world "have indicated that it would be unwise to exile Chairman Arafat."
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