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U.N. chief Annan congratulates President-elect Bush

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan offered congratulations to President-elect George W. Bush on Friday with a subtle reminder of a longstanding dispute between the United States and the world body -- $1.7 billion in unpaid dues.

"Over eight years, we developed very good relations with President Clinton and Vice President Gore, and I look forward to developing the same relations with President-elect Bush," Annan told reporters at U.N. headquarters Friday.

In a written statement Friday, Annan said he looked forward to working with Bush to resolve the question of U.S. arrears. He congratulated Bush on his victory and told him that relations between the United States and the world organization were on a firm footing, "reflecting our mutual commitment to a stable, prosperous and equitable world."

Annan said he also looked forward to welcoming Bush to the United Nations headquarters in New York. Bush's father, George Bush, served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the Nixon administration.

The secretary general told reporters Friday that it remains too early to tell whether the change in U.S. leadership would affect the current impasse over U.S. dues payments to the United Nations. Annan said Friday he hoped that the incoming president would "agree with me that if the U.S. were to pay its way and work constructively with other like-minded states, it can get a lot done in this organization and around the world."

"As you know, in Washington, it doesn't always depend only on the president. There are other forces in town which have incredible impact on these issues," he said.

As part of a law championed by Sen. Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina, the United States requires that its share of U.N. dues be reduced from 25 percent to 22 percent of the organization's budget by December 31 before Washington releases some of the money it owes.

The United States is also demanding a reduction in its share of peacekeeping assessments.

Associated Press news material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.




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Friday, December 15, 2000

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