UNITED NATIONS – Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search) said Tuesday he was relieved that a horrible year was coming to an end but reiterated he has no intention of resigning over allegations of corruption in the U.N. Oil-for-Food program and plans to move ahead with sweeping changes at the United Nations.
He told a year-end news conference the Oil-for-Food (search) allegations "have cast a shadow over an operation that brought relief to millions of Iraqis" and expressed hope that an investigation led by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker (search) would "find out the truth as quickly as possible."
Addressing questions about calls for his resignation in the U.S. Congress, Annan said, "I have the confidence of member states" and will move ahead with preparations for a summit in September 2005 where world leaders will hopefully adopt major U.N. reforms to address global security threats in the 21st century.
Nonetheless, the secretary-general said, "I'm relieved this annus horribilis has come to an end," using the Latin words for a "horrible year."
Annan disclosed that Volcker's first report in January would be accompanied by reports of U.N. internal audits of the Oil-for-Food program, which have sought by U.S. congressional investigators also probing the corruption allegations.
Looking ahead, Annan said, "I see important openings for peace" but he said continuing violence in Iraq could influence voter turnout in Iraq's Jan. 30 election.