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World: Clinton To Urge UN To Accept Arrears Offer

New York, 22 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - President Bill Clinton is at the United Nations talking with Ukraine's Hennady Udovenko, president of this year's 52nd annual UN General Assembly, and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan before addressing the UN gathering of world leaders.

In his speech, Clinton is expected to urge the UN General Assembly to accept what the U.S. is prepared to pay on its UN debt and not hold out for the larger amount the United Nations says it is owed.

Washington says it owes the organization $900 million but the United Nations estimates the U.S. bill at more than $1.3 billion. And the United States has made payment conditional on stringent streamlining measures, some of which other member-states find unpalatable.

After his speech, Clinton will have separate bilateral talks with the Prime Minister of Pakistan and Russian foreign minister Gennady Primakov.

In a departure from tradition, Annan will be the first to speak at the opening of the Assembly's General Debate. He is expected to make an urgent personal appeal to delegates to endorse his plan to reform the UN structure, reduce its staff and consolidate operations.

In other changes in the roster of speakers, the Czech Republic's foreign minister Josef Zieleniec will address the Assembly later today instead of tomorrow and instead of the Croatian representative, who has been moved to Thursday.

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma will speak as scheduled later today, followed by the foreign minister of Georgia.