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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Kofi Annan Responds to Iraqi Acceptance of Resolution

Aired November 13, 2002 - 15:14   ET

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

ARTHEL NEVILLE, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to go to Washington right now, where we will hear some words from Kofi Annan.
KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

I've just had a very good discussion with the president on a range of issues, from Iraq to the Middle East to Cyprus, some other conflicts in Africa, and the need for us to press ahead, also with issues of resolving the conflict in Africa and economic development aspects.

And, of course, I ran into the secretary of health, Tommy Thompson, coming out. And we had the chance also to exchange a brief word about the necessity of maintaining our fight against HIV/AIDS.

I will take your questions.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary General, is it your opinion, sir, that with this letter Iraq is in compliance with Chapter 9 of -- paragraph 9 of 1441; that they had stated their intention to comply with the resolutions...

ANNAN: Yes. Iraq has accepted. I think, the word of the acceptance and inviting the inspectors to come in is there, so we take it that they have accepted it. And Mr. Blix and his team will go in on the 18th and begin their work actively.

QUESTION: So they have met the first deadline?

ANNAN: Yes.

QUESTION: Secretary General, is it your impression -- some of the administration have said, "Look, we've heard this before." What's your level of confidence that things are different now or are they?

ANNAN: I think we all have to be a bit patient. The inspectors will be there in a few days, within a week. They'll be there by the 18th. And we're going to test it.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) give us more details about your discussion in Cyprus...

ANNAN: I think the president, like other leaders, is encouraged that the plan is out and we are all hoping that the leaders will seize this opportunity and resolve the Cyprus issue once and for all. I have asked the leaders to react within a week, and I would hope to hear from them by the 18th and we will decide how we take the issue forward.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

ANNAN: I think the resolution is clear as to what the inspectors have to do and the reporting procedures to the council president is determined. But the disarmament will take place and that we should press ahead with our plans.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

ANNAN: I think the issue is not the acceptance, but the performance on the ground. It's the performance on the ground. So let the inspectors go in and I urge the Iraqis to cooperate with them and to perform and I think that is the real test we are awaiting.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary General, the language in the letter, sir, as you know, is quite bombastic and includes a paragraph at the end in which (inaudible) says that he outline to you in a further letter what he believes are illegalities in Resolution 1441. Does that give you some, sort of, indications that they're going to start playing games here?

ANNAN: I will wait to see whether it's an indication that they are going to play games or if it's a message they are sending to their own people. I really do not know.

But what is important is that the resolution is mandatory. The resolution went into force the moment it was adopted. And the inspectors are going to go there and do their work, and they have to comply and we will see what happens when they are on the ground.

QUESTION: The Iraqi ambassador today said that Iraq has nothing to fear because it has no weapons of mass destruction. Based on everything you have seen, tell us (OFF-MIKE) you believe that to be a truthful statement, that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction.

ANNAN: I really can't answer that question until the inspectors come back. This is precisely why the inspectors are going back in. And with their new strengthened mandate, I hope they will be able to search and go wherever they want to, to do their work and come back and report to the council. And that is why they are going. That is their mandate: to come back and certify whether Iraq has or has no weapons of mass destruction.

QUESTION: Did the president express a willingness of getting involved and helping you in your effort on Cyprus (inaudible)?

ANNAN: I do expect the president to help. And it's not just the president. Quite a lot of other leaders around the world have offered to help. And I'm sure the president will do everything he can to help us find a settlement on Cyprus. And so have other leaders indicated. And I think we really have a chance.

But as I said, it will require courage, vision and determination, because they really have a chance to solve this 30-year-old conflict and build a better future for their children, and also improved relations between Greece and Turkey once and for all. And I also hope that the settlement of this issue would also be helpful for eventual entry of Turkey into the EU.

Thank you.

NEVILLE: And we've been listening to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan answering questions of reporters, being very careful in many of his answers, though. He said the Bush administration is encouraged that weapons inspectors are going back into Iraq.

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