Iraq

Annan appeals again for Security Council unity in dealing with Iraq

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United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan made yet another appeal today for united Security Council action in ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction as the 15-member body continued to wrestle over whether to give UN inspectors more time or to declare Baghdad in default by next Monday.
"I think what is important is that governments have to find a way of working together," Mr. Annan said in reply to reporters' questions at UN Headquarters in New York. "Regardless of how this crisis or the current issue is resolved, the Council will have to work together, and the Members States will have to work together to deal with the situation in Iraq, in the Middle East and in many other issues."

The Secretary-General said he had spoken to British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday night and "he seemed very genuinely looking for a compromise and a way forward." He also said Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva had sent him a message proposing a summit meeting of world leaders, not necessarily Security Council members, who are also searching for "a compromise to get us out of this crisis."

The United States, United Kingdom and Spain have introduced a draft resolution that presents Iraq with a 17 March deadline to cooperate fully with disarmament demands, which France says it will veto. France, Germany, the Russian Federation and other Council members have voiced opposition to action at this time and seek continued and enhanced weapons inspections.

The Council has scheduled closed-door consultations this afternoon to continue discussions on Iraq.