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Arab Nations Want U.N. to Work Toward Cease-Fire

Arab Nations Want U.N. to Work Toward Cease-Fire

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Tuesday there is "lots of unhappiness" at the United Nations about the war in Iraq and that Arab nations want the United Nations to do more to bring about a cease-fire.

The 22-member Arab Group met on Monday with Annan and announced that it would push for adoption of a resolution in the General Assembly to show the strength of world opposition to the U.S.-led military campaign.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference Group, with 57 member nations, also supported taking the issue to the General Assembly.

Annan said Arab nations want to see the secretary-general and the Security Council "be a bit more active" about trying to end the war.

"My concern is the population in the cities that are besieged," Annan said. "With the hot season coming on, if you have no water and electricity it can lead to sanitation problems."

Richard Sydenham, spokesman for General Assembly President Jan Kavan, said no formal request had been received Tuesday on convening the 191-nation world body.

Last week, the Security Council held a two-day open meeting on Iraq at the request of the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, comprising about 115 mainly developing countries. But the groups did not press for a resolution, with the 15 council members bitterly divided over the war.

By going to the General Assembly, where there are no vetoes, war opponents have a much better chance of winning approval for a resolution, if they can draft a text with broad appeal.

However, unlike Security Council resolutions, those in the General Assembly are not binding.

The United States, Britain and Spain dropped a Security Council resolution seeking an ultimatum for Saddam Hussein to disarm or face war after France, Russia, Germany and China vehemently opposed the measure. They argued Iraq could be disarmed peacefully through strengthened weapons inspections.

Once the fighting stops, Annan wants U.N. weapons inspectors to resume their work and test any weapons of mass destruction that might be found. He also said "it is not excluded that the U.N. will play an important role" in post-conflict Iraq.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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