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War in Iraq Did Not Make World Safer, Annan Says

Associated Press
Monday, October 18, 2004; Page A15

LONDON, Oct. 17 -- The U.S.-led war in Iraq has not made the world any safer, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said in a British television interview that aired on Sunday.

"I cannot say the world is safer when you consider the violence around us, when you look around you and see the terrorist attacks around the world and you see what is going on in Iraq," Annan told the ITV network.

"We have a lot of work to do as an international community to try and make the world safer," he said in an interview on the network's "The Jonathan Dimbleby Program."

Annan has previously described the U.S.-led war that toppled Saddam Hussein as "illegal."

The U.N. leader said he believed that Iraq was on track to hold elections at the end of January and said he would speak out if he was not satisfied with the way they are conducted.

"If that sort of judgment or any decision which is made which we think detracts from the credibility and viability of the elections, we will be duty-bound to say so," he said.

Annan also dismissed suggestions that France, Russia and China had been prepared to ease sanctions on Hussein's government in return for oil contracts.

A U.S. report issued earlier this month by the Iraq Survey Group, an entity set up to hunt for weapons of mass destruction, concluded that Iraq tried to manipulate foreign governments with oil contracts and bribes to companies and political figures in an effort to end sanctions.

Annan said it was "inconceivable" that Hussein's efforts could have influenced policy in the countries concerned.

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