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Bush, Annan, to Discuss Iraqi Situation - 2004-02-03


UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is to meet with President Bush and top administration officials in Washington today (Tuesday) to discuss the situation in Iraq.

Mr. Annan is to hold talks first with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and then join President Bush and his national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, for lunch at the White House.

The United States hopes a UN delegation expected to be sent to Baghdad will be able resolve Shi'ite objections to a U.S.-backed plan for a transfer of power to an interim Iraqi authority by the end of June.

Popular Shi'ite Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is demanding early elections, instead of the U.S. plan to chose the interim government through regional caucuses.

Late last week, Mr. Annan said, if adequate security can be arranged, he will send UN officials to Iraq to determine whether early elections are possible.

Mr. Annan and the Bush administration have also been discussing the possible return of UN-staff to Iraq. The Secretary-General pulled almost all UN workers out of Iraq last year following two deadly bomb attacks on UN installations there.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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