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UN Secretary-General Speaks to Press Iraq Inspections

Aired December 3, 2002 - 11:06   ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We're expecting that UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan is going to be coming out and speaking to the press, and we may be getting some more of a direct update from the secretary-general on this inspection process.
There he is. You can see him walking down the hallway on his way to the microphones.

And let's listen in to hear what he has to say.


QUESTION: Could you tell us what your expectation is for the Iraqi declaration and whether you have any idea of when it's going to be delivered? And would the UN be open, if it comes over the weekend?

KOFI ANNAN, UN SECRETARY-GENERAL: Well, I would not want to speculate as to what will be in the report. I will wait for the inspectors to analyze it and brief the council on the contents and give it to the council. At this stage I would prefer not to speculate.

QUESTION: What about the timing, though, and whether...

ANNAN: They will have to do it by the 8th of December. There are newspaper reports that they may do it on the 7th. I have no formal confirmation of that.

QUESTION: Will people be here to receive it at that time?

ANNAN: We are always open for business.

QUESTION: Mr. Annan, weapons inspectors issued a statement yesterday saying that they had encountered at at least one missile plant, that there was some missing equipment there. They had issued a statement on that. And also, President Bush was saying that the early signs are not promising of Iraqi cooperation. What is your comment on these events?

ANNAN: First of all, let me say that I have not seen any formal report from the inspectors. It's only been a week, and obviously the cooperation seems to be good, but this is not a one-week wonder. They have to sustain the cooperation and the effort and perform, and we will have to wait for the report of the inspectors.

I think, as far as the president's comments are concerned, the president speaks very clearly and frankly, and I think he made himself very clear, and I don't have to interpret him.

QUESTION: Sir, when you expect the answers from the two Cypriot leaders? And what is going to be your next step?

ANNAN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Mr. de Soto, my envoy in the region is working very actively with the leaders to get their answers. I think we have time to come to an honorable agreement. And as I have indicated, the timetable was part and parcel of the proposals, and there's still time to conclude an agreement.

The issues are not new. We've been working on them for years. And luckily, the same team, or the same leaders, have been working with us on these issues for over 25 years. And we do have time to come to an agreement.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary-General, it seems like the time run out, though. Everyone says so. Do you have any plans for your next step after the 12th in case the parties do not agree before Copenhagen?

ANNAN: The time has not run out. We are today 3rd of December, and we have almost 10 days, nine to 10 days, and I think that's plenty of time.

QUESTION: Sir, just to follow up on the Iraqi question, I understand that you haven't seen these reports, these official reports yet, but it seems today that an inspection at a presidential palace or site went off without a hitch. How pleased are you with at least the initial reports that an inspection at a presidential site went without problems?

ANNAN: I think, of course, that is an indication that the inspectors are using their new authority effectively. They have the right to inspect and go anywhere, and they have demonstrated that they are determined to use this new authority. And it is also a good indication that the Iraqis are cooperating. But as I said, this is only the beginning.

QUESTION: What do you think about the reports that there is now a collusion between al Qaeda terrorists and Palestinian terrorists? In other words, al Qaeda targeting and working in collusion with Palestinian terrorists, Israeli citizens, Israeli facilities, et cetera. Do you have any information on it? And what additional threat does that pose?

ANNAN: I haven't seen any reports on that. I've read newspaper accounts. But I don't want to speculate on that.

QUESTION: Sir, last year you told us that you have a dream for Cyprus. What is your dream?

ANNAN: My dream is to see a united Cyprus admitted to the European Union and a Cyprus that will enter EU and prosper as one nation. I think the people have gone through this conflict for several decades and we now have an opportunity to end it, and I hope the two leaders will seize the opportunity and bring peace and stability to the island and make history. QUESTION: Mr. Secretary-General, just one last question. The Security Council today is going to be discussing the rollover of the oil-for-food humanitarian program...


QUESTION: ... which expires tomorrow. Are you concerned that internal wrangling over perhaps reopening the list of dual-use items could have some kind of an impact on the Iraqi people?

ANNAN: Well, the idea of the program is to help the Iraqi people. And we've always maintained that our quarrel, if any, is not with the Iraqi population. And the oil-for-food scheme was designed to help them, and I hope nothing will be done to jeopardize the interest of the population that we seek to help.

Thank you.


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