News




DATE=2/20/98
TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
NUMBER=2-227038
TITLE=ANNAN/BAGHDAD (L)
BYLINE=MAX RUSTON
DATELINE=BAGHDAD
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 

INTRO: UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY GENERAL KOFI ANNAN ARRIVES IN THE
IRAQI CAPITAL, BAGHDAD, IN A MATTER OF HOURS.  MR ANNAN WILL TRY 
TO NEGOTIATE A PEACEFUL SOLUTION TO THE STAND-OFF OVER THE 
INSPECTION OF SUSPECTED IRAQI WEAPON SITES.  V-O-A CORRESPONDENT 
MAX RUSTON REPORTS FROM BAGHDAD. 

TEXT: THE FOCUS OF MR ANNAN'S VISIT WILL BE A FULL DAY OF TALKS  
ON SATURDAY.  IRAQ HAS ASSEMBLED A HIGH LEVEL TEAM FOR THOSE 
NEGOTIATIONS, WHICH INCLUDES AT LEAST ONE  DOZEN GOVERNMENT 
MINISTERS.  AT SOME POINT DURING THOSE TALKS, MR ANNAN IS 
EXPECTED TO MEET WITH IRAQI PRESIDENT SADDAM HUSSEIN, BUT NO 
SPECIFIC TIME OR PLACE FOR THAT MEETING HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED.

DIPLOMATS IN BAGHDAD SAY THEY BELIEVE MR. ANNAN HAS A 50/50 
CHANCE OF NEGOTIATING A SOLUTION TO THE WEAPONS INSPECTION 
DISPUTE.  THEY WARN THAT IF HE FAILS THAT COULD OPEN THE WAY FOR 
MORE COUNTRIES TO SUPPORT U-S PLANS FOR A MILITARY STRIKE AGAINST
IRAQ.

THE U-N SECRETARY GENERAL IS BELIEVED PLANNING TO PROPOSE VARIOUS
SUGGESTIONS FOR CHANGING THE LOOK OF THE UNSCOM WEAPONS 
INSPECTION TEAM.  THE PROPOSALS ARE DESIGNED TO MAINTAIN THE 
STRENGTH AND SKILLS OF THE TEAM WHILE GIVING IRAQ A NEW CHANCE TO
AVOID A MILITARY CONFLICT.   

THE UNITED STATES, BRITAIN AND OTHER MEMBERS OF THE UN SECURITY 
COUNCIL HAVE VOICED SUPPORT FOR MR ANNAN'S VISIT TO BAGHDAD ON 
THE CONDITION THAT ANY SOLUTION REACHED DOES NOT EASE 
REQUIREMENTS FOR BAGHDAD TO FULLY ABIDE BY UN RESOLUTIONS ON 
WEAPONS INSPECTIONS.

US OFFICIALS HAVE PUBLICLY DISCOURAGED MR ANNAN FROM MAKING ANY 
SIGNIFICANT CONCESSIONS IN HIS TALKS WITH BAGHDAD BUT UN 
OFFICIALS SAY THEY STILL BELIEVE THERE REMAINS SOME ROOM FOR A 
COMPROMISED SETTLEMENT THAT WOULD ALLOW THE CONTINUATION OF 
WEAPONS INSPECTIONS WITHOUT MAKING IT LOOK AS IF SUDDAM HUSSEIN 
HAS CAVED IN TO WESTERN DEMANDS.  THEY SAY SUCH A SOLUTION -- 
CENTERED ON SO CALLED FACE-SAVING AGREEMENTS -- OFFER THE BEST 
HOPES FOR AVOIDING THE CONFLICT.

IN BAGHDAD, THERE ARE FEW VISIBLE SIGNS OF CONCERN OVER THE 
MOUNTING US PREPARATIONS FOR MILITARY STRIKES AGAINST IRAQ.  
SECURITY IS TIGHT IN PREPARATION FOR THE U-N SECRETARY GENERAL'S 
VISIT.  THE UNITED NATIONS IS REDUCING ITS STAFF IN BAGHDAD.  
ELECTRICITY SHORTAGES REMAIN A PROBLEM FOR MOST RESIDENTS, BUT 
SHOPS REMAIN OPEN AND PEOPLE ON THE STREETS SAY THEY DO NOT HAVE 
MAJOR FEARS CONCERNING THE STAND-OFF WEAPONS INSPECTIONS  (SIGNED

NEB/TM/WFR

20-Feb-98 7:15 AM EST (1215 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America
.