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Annan calls for timetable of withdrawal from Iraq

THE BALTIMORE SUN

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called on the U.S.-led forces in Iraq to set out a "clear timetable" for a staged withdrawal, pointing out that numerous Iraqis had told U.N. officials that "democracy should not be imposed from the outside."

Although he welcomed last weekend's founding of the 25-member Governing Council for Iraq, Annan said in a report distributed to Security Council members Friday that "there is a pressing need to set out a clear and specific sequence of events leading to the end of the military occupation."

The report comes at a delicate moment, less than a week after India declined to provide military assistance in Iraq unless it could be done with U.N. authorization. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell has indicated a willingness to explore a new resolution, but U.S. military officials are predicting a prolonged guerrilla war that could keep high levels of troops in Iraq for months.

The issue of a new resolution was not addressed in Annan's report, though it did conclude by saying "the legitimacy and impartiality of the United Nations is a considerable asset in promoting the interests of the Iraqi people."

The report's tone indicated cooperative relations between Annan's special representative in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who is scheduled to appear before the Security Council on Tuesday, and the U.S. administrator, L. Paul Bremer III. But it included criticisms.

While making note of the "egregious violations of human rights" by Saddam Hussein's government, the report questioned the treatment of detained Iraqis.

The U.N. report also chides the provisional authority for its failure to restore order, saying that "for ordinary Iraqis, as well as U.N. personnel, the principal security threat currently comes from violent crime."

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