United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says the United States and Britain are partly to blame for Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq taking in billions of dollars from illegal oil sales.
Mr. Annan says most of the kickbacks that went to Saddam Hussein had no connection with the UN oil-for-food program, which had humanitarian aims. The secretary-general contends most of Iraq's illicit oil profits resulted from shipments that moved through Turkey and Jordan with the almost certain knowledge of the United States and Britain.
Mr. Annan said only Washington and London had the forces to stop Iraq's oil smuggling, which violated UN sanctions. Possibly the Americans and British knew exactly what was going on, the secretary-general said, but -- in his words -- they "decided to close their eyes to Turkey and Jordan because they are allies."
U.S. and British officials have yet to respond to Mr. Annan's comments.
The secretary-general was speaking Thursday at a meeting about news coverage of the United Nations after word came that U.S. prosecutors charged three businessmen -- one each from the United States, Britain and Bulgaria -- with siphoning off millions of dollars from the oil-for-food program between 2000 and 2003.
Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.