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EU: Annan Calls For Unity Behind A Common Vision On Iraq

Brussels, 17 February 2003 (RFE/RL) -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan today told European Union leaders gathered in Brussels for an emergency summit on Iraq to arrive at a common vision. Annan said his talks with EU leaders took place at what he believes to be a "defining moment" for international cooperation. "I told [EU leaders] that we must keep the focus on Iraq and on its obligation to disarm. On that critical point I think we all agree that Iraq must disarm and do it proactively and immediately. And I think it is important that we focus on this critical task and avoid turning on each other," Annan said.

Annan said he believes the crisis could still be resolved peacefully, but that Iraq must stop defying UN Security Council Resolution 1441.

Annan said the Security Council must decide if Iraq is in "material breach" of Resolution 1441, saying that action against Iraq without Security Council support would be "seriously impaired" and would put the credibility of the United Nations at risk.

Earlier today, French President Jacques Chirac said ahead of the summit that his government will oppose a second UN resolution on disarming Baghdad.

The U.S. and Britain are pushing for a second UN resolution declaring Iraq in further breach of its disarmament obligations or authorizing military action.