- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Annan to meet Iraqi foreign minister

NEW YORK U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan will meet Iraq's foreign minister in April for two days of talks, hoping to focus on the return of arms inspectors to the Middle East nation.

U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said Mr. Annan and Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri will meet April 18 and 19 in New York, stressing that the secretary-general felt two days of talks might be warranted. This month, the two met for one day, March 7, in their first high-level talks in a year.

Mr. Annan is "hoping for substantive and focused discussions, specifically of the return of arms inspectors to Iraq," Mr. Eckhard said Monday.

A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the discussions should concentrate on returning inspectors as soon as possible.

Baghdad is under sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, and they cannot be lifted until U.N. inspectors certify that Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons have been eliminated along with the long-range missiles to deliver them.

Oil tankers collide; disaster averted

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates Two massive oil tankers collided early Monday in the Gulf of Oman, but no oil was spilled.

After several hours, tugboats separated the empty British Vigilance from the Stena King, which was laden with oil, said a spokesman for the owners of British Vigilance.

The accident occurred at 1:30 a.m. about 15 miles off the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah.

The harbormaster at Fujairah, Tamer Massoud, said the Stena King's bow rammed into the side of British Vigilance.

The Stena King was carrying 450,000 tons of oil from Saudi Arabia to the Gulf of Mexico.

Danes press Bush on Iraq diplomacy

Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark pressed President Bush in an Oval Office meeting on Monday to seek a diplomatic solution before expanding his anti-terror campaign into Iraq.

"I stressed that first of all we should make sure that international inspectors get free access to Iraq" to keep Saddam Hussein from developing weapons of mass destruction, Mr. Rasmussen told reporters after his talks with Mr. Bush, Vice President Richard B. Cheney and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

The prime minister said he also told Mr. Bush that Denmark will extend its soldiers' tours of duty in Afghanistan.

Weekly notes

Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi has ended her work as spokeswoman for the Arab League after less than a year in the job, her office said. Mrs. Ashrawi was abroad and not available for comment, but the outspoken and well-known Palestinian representative has been critical of the league since becoming its media-policy coordinator in July. … Portuguese Nobel laureate Jose Saramago, during a visit to Ramallah on the West Bank, called for "ringing bells" against what he called Israeli crimes against Palestinians during their 18-month-old uprising against occupation.

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