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Iraqi Diplomat Defects

Aired July 3, 2001 - 12:10   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: CNN has learned that an Iraqi diplomat at the United Nations has defected and is requesting asylum in the United States.

For more, let's go to our Richard Roth, who is at the UN -- Richard.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, we don't have that much information, but it's confirmed that an Iraqi diplomat at Iraq's mission to the United Nations here in New York has requested asylum for himself and his family in the United States. This is a very rare occurrence. Certainly, Iraq and the United States have no diplomatic relations, and Iraq and the United Nations, their relationship is quite strained.

But according to "The Associated Press," the diplomat walked into a Manhattan police station on Friday with one member of his family and requested asylum. CNN has confirmed, through law enforcement sources, that the request for asylum -- the defection -- has indeed taken place.

What Iraq says is that there were three or four diplomats who were supposed to end their term in New York and return to Baghdad. The Iraqi ambassador wouldn't confirm any defection. He was quoted by "The Associated Press" saying if someone wants to stay, what can we do? He refused to say which diplomat might have requested asylum, or even that it occurred -- Daryn.

KAGAN: So we don't know who, but do we know what, in terms of what would happen from here, procedurally, Richard?

ROTH: Well, there would be simple procedures regarding diplomats and requesting asylum. It's unknown whether the person would be moved out of New York or given security or shelter, that type of thing. It's a little early to know what's going to happen.

But it's been confirmed. It would be a public relations coup for the United States, but really one that won't be trumpeted at all as the deadlock between the two countries diplomatically goes on.

KAGAN: Richard Roth, at the United Nations, thank you.

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