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Annan to discuss Darfur, Iran, etc in Washington

Annan to discuss Darfur, Iran, and other hotspots with top officials in Washington

Ahead of his visit next week to Washington, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today the situation in the Darfur region of Sudan and the nuclear dispute involving Iran would be among the key issues discussed with United States President George W. Bush and other senior officials.

Speaking to the press in New York, the Secretary-General also said Côte d’Ivoire would be on the agenda during Monday’s meetings.

He emphasized the importance of addressing strife-torn Darfur, a region which earlier this month Mr. Annan said needed a UN peacekeeping operation to take over from the African Union (AU) force currently there.

Such a force “would require the participation of governments with highly trained troops, who are also well equipped. It is not going to be easy for the big and powerful countries with armies to delegate to Third World countries. They will have to play a part if we are going to stop the carnage that we see in Darfur,” he said.

When meeting with President Bush, Mr. Annan said he would discuss “the needs that we have and the countries that I think can supply those needs, and that will include the US.”

He also predicted that talks would touch on the Iranian issue, the situation in Iraq and the Middle East, as well as the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that have sparked violent protests worldwide.

The subject of UN reform would also be discussed, Mr. Annan said. In addition to conferring with the President on 13 February, the Secretary-General will have a separate working lunch with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice before returning to New York.

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