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Annan welcomes effective use of authority

Iraq: Annan welcomes UN inspectors' effective use of authority

3 December – Secretary-General Kofi Annan today welcomed the fact that United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq are successfully exercising their authority.

Responding to questions from the press as he entered UN Headquarters in New York this morning, Mr. Annan said today's inspection of a presidential site in Baghdad was 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," he said. "And it is also a good indication that the Iraqis are cooperating."

At the same time, the Secretary-General emphasized that "this is only a beginning," telling reporters that while cooperation seems to be good, "this is not a one-week wonder." Mr. Annan added that he would wait for the inspectors to analyze their data and brief the Security Council.

To a question on Security Council talks regarding an extension of the humanitarian "oil-for-food" programme for Iraq, set to expire tomorrow, he stressed that the initiative aims to assist the Iraqi people. "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," he said

Meanwhile, the UN office running the programme today reported that last week, Baghdad's crude exports totalled 11.9 million barrels, earning an estimated $258 million in revenue.

UNSG TRANSCRIPT

New York, 3 December 2002 - Secretary-General's press encounter upon arrival at UNHQ (unofficial transcript)

Q: 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?

SG: 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 [Security] Council on the contents and give it to the Council. At this stage, I would prefer not to speculate.

Q: What about the timing though?

SG: They would 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.

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

SG: We are always open for business.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, the weapons inspectors issued a statement yesterday saying that they had encountered at least one missile plant, that there was some missing equipment there. They had issued a statement on that. And also, [United States] President [George W.] Bush was saying that the early signs are not promising of Iraqi cooperation. What is your comment on these events?

SG: First of all, let me say that I have not seen any formal report from the inspectors. It has 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.

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

SG: Mr. [Alvaro] 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 honourable 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.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, its seems like the time [has] 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?

SG: The time has not run out. We are, today, the 3rd of December. And we have almost 10 days – 9 to 10 days. I think that's plenty of time.

Q: An Iraqi question. I understand you haven't seen these reports, these official reports, yet. But it seems today that an inspection of the presidential palace or site went off without a hitch. How pleased are you, at least the initial reports, that the inspection of a presidential site went without problems?

SG: 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.

Q: Sir, 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, etc. Do you have any information on that and what additional threat does that pose?

SG: I haven't seen any reports on that. I've read newspaper accounts, but I don't want to speculate on that.

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

SG: My dream is to see a united Cyprus admitted to the European Union, and a Cyprus that would 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.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, just one last question. The Security Council today is going to be discussing the rollover of the oil-for-food humanitarian programme 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?

SG: The idea of the programme 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 interests of the population that we seek to help.

Thank you.

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