- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 6, 2003

Two Democratic congressmen met privately last week with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, representing Capitol Hill opponents of military action against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
The Jan. 30 meeting between Reps. John Conyers, Jr., of Michigan and Jim McDermott of Washington and Mr. Annan reported yesterday by Roll Call took place six days before Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was to present evidence to the U.N. Security Council of Saddam's ongoing efforts to evade inspections and produce weapons of mass destruction.
The United Nations "should bind us all, even when we're in disagreement," Mr. Conyers told Roll Call, suggesting the world body was being "devalued" by the Bush administration's approach on Iraq.
"I wanted Kofi Annan to know that a considerable number of us [on Capitol Hill] think that in going it alone, [the United States] may be alienating the same institution that we will need in the future, going forward," Mr. Conyers told the newspaper.
Mr. Conyers also stressed that the United Nations needs to reassert its "centrality" in world affairs, and described the session with Mr. Annan as "extremely encouraging."
"The thing that's encouraging is that [Mr. Annan] is probably going to be his own man," Mr. Conyers said.
Mr. Conyers' office did not return a telephone call seeking comment last night.
A spokeswoman for Mr. McDermott told Roll Call that she was not familiar with the details of the meeting. "All I know is that they were talking about Iraq and letting [Mr. Annan] know that there are people in Congress opposed to going to war," spokeswoman Heather Kersey said.
The House voted 296-133 in October to authorize President Bush to use military force against Iraq.
In the fall, Mr. McDermott became a "lightning rod," in the words of the Seattle Times, when he gave a live television interview from Baghdad where he and two other Democratic congressmen met with Iraqi leaders and said Mr. Bush "would mislead the American people."
Some analysts said negative publicity caused by Mr. McDermott's Iraq trip, five weeks before the midterm elections, helped Republicans recapture the Senate and maintain control of the House.

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