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US, UK Reject Iraq Charges; Rice Demands UN Reform


The United States and Britain reject charges that they are partly to blame for billions of dollars that Saddam Hussein's regime pocketed from Iraq's illegal oil sales.

American and British officials spoke out Friday in reaction to comments by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who says most of Iraq's illicit funds came not from the United Nations' oil-for-food program, but from oil-smuggling activities.

Mr. Annan contends that the United States and Britain ignored illegal Iraqi shipments that passed through Turkey and Jordan, which supported the U.S.-led campaign to oust Saddam.

A spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations (Richard Grenell) says the United States does not condone smuggling, but granted waivers to Turkey and Jordan to import Iraqi oil. A British official (Foreign Secretary Jack Straw) disputes Mr. Annan's suggestion that London ignored illegal shipments.

Here in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sharply criticized the United Nations and said it must reform if it is "to survive as a vital force" in international affairs. (In a speech Friday,) Ms. Rice said recent scandals involving the U.N. oil-for-food program and sexual misconduct by peacekeepers in Africa show that the United Nations must revise its management practices, its secretariat and its programs.

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