UNITED NATIONS – Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Mohammed Al-Douri, the first Iraqi official to concede defeat in the U.S.-led war, is leaving for Baghdad soon, Arab diplomats said Thursday.
The Iraqi envoy told some diplomats he expected to leave Friday night via Paris, but that his plans weren't finalized and he might remain in New York for a few more days.
Al-Douri had declared "the game is over" on Wednesday and expressed hope that the Iraqi people will now be able to live in peace.
On Thursday, he met privately with Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Afterward, he refused to answer questions from the media about that conversation, his future or the war.
"I am sorry -- no answer," he said. "No comment at all. This is my last word to you."
Annan also wasn't commenting on the meeting in his 38th floor office overlooking the East River.
"We have nothing to say about that meeting," said Annan's spokesman, Fred Eckhard. "It was requested by the ambassador, and we feel that anything to be said about what happened in that meeting should be said by the ambassador."
Besieged by reporters, photographers and camera crews at his residence and at the United Nations, Al-Douri did manage to have several private conversations with ambassadors and diplomats in the Delegate's Lounge during his two hours at U.N. headquarters.
"I wished him good luck, but I don't know what he said to the secretary-general and what will be his next steps," said Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa who talked with Al-Douri before his own meeting with Annan.
Al-Douri is expected to fly to Paris and then on to the Syrian capital, Damascus, en route to Baghdad to be reunited with his family, the Arab diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday night, Al-Douri said he will continue to work at the United Nations and had no intention of defecting.
"Defecting from who?" he asked. "I think the government has already defected. There is no more Iraqi government to be defected from."
Annan said early Thursday -- before meeting Al-Douri -- that in talks with the Iraqi ambassador on Monday "he didn't ask for an asylum or protection ... [and] he didn't ask me for help with his status."
"We did talk about what happens, depending on the evolution of things on the ground," Annan said, but gave no details.
Al-Douri taught international law at Baghdad University for more than 30 years before becoming a diplomat in 1999, first at the United Nations in Geneva and since 2001 at U.N. headquarters in New York.
He said he would love to return to teaching, but for now plans to stay at the United Nations. "Things will be crystalized one day," he said.
"What I worried about is that things are settled in the country ... so in the future the Iraqi people will live in peace without sanctions, without wars, without suffering. This is my message."