UNITED NATIONS – Weapons inspectors should be given more time to do their jobs and disarm Iraq peacefully, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Monday ahead of crucial reports from the chief inspectors assessing Baghdad's compliance.
"They should be given the time to do their work and all of us, the council and the assembly, must realize that time will be necessary, a reasonable amount of time, I'm not saying forever, but they do need time to get their work done and I suspect the council will allow that to be done," Annan told reporters as he entered the U.N. building.
His comments contrasted with the stance of the Bush administration, which believes Iraq has shown over the past two months an unwillingness to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday that the inspections had run their course, though he did not explicitly call for their end. He said that as a result of Iraq's lack of cooperation, he had lost faith in the ability of inspectors to fulfill their mission.
But Annan said: "I have not given up on peace."
"I really hope that Iraq will comply and we will be able to get on and disarm Iraq peacefully."
Annan praised the work of chief inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, whom he called "determined and independent-minded."
"We are all lucky to have two able leaders leading the inspection teams."
Annan will attended Monday's Security Council meeting where Blix and ElBaradei will present their reports. But the secretary-general, who has spent much of his time at the organization's helm dealing with one Iraq crisis after another, said he planned no further comments Monday.