Tags: Bush | Calls | for | 'Full' | Oil-for-Food | Probe

Bush Calls for 'Full' Oil-for-Food Probe

Thursday, 02 December 2004 12:00 AM

Asked by reporters if Annan should step down because of allegations of corruption in the U.N. oil-for-food program, Bush said he was awaiting the results of investigations.

"I look forward to a full disclosure of the facts, a good, honest appraisal of that which went on, and it's important for the integrity of the organization," he said.

Annan has appointed former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker to head an inquiry into the program. Several congressional committees also are conducting investigations.

The program began in 1996 when Iraq was under U.N. penalties. It allowed Saddam Hussein's government to sell oil and use the revenue to buy food, medicine and other necessities.

But several reports have said that Saddam used bribes, kickbacks and other forms of corruption to make money from the program. The Senate Governmental Affairs investigations subcommittee found that Saddam raised more than $21.3 billion in illegal revenue by subverting U.N. penalties and that about one-third of that total came from the oil-for-food program.

The subcommittee chairman, Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., has called on Annan to step down because "the most extensive fraud in the history of the U.N. occurred on his watch."

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office at the start of a meeting with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, Bush stressed the importance of a "full and fair and open accounting of the oil-for-food program."

"In order for the taxpayers of the United States to feel comfortable about supporting the United Nations, there has to be an open accounting," he said.

Annan has had a rocky relationship with Bush. The secretary-general has called the U.S.-led war in Iraq illegal and said the invasion has not made the world safer.

Annan was elected to a second five-year term in 2001 and appears to retain wide support among the 191 U.N. member states.

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Asked by reporters if Annan should step down because of allegations of corruption in the U.N. oil-for-food program, Bush said he was awaiting the results of investigations. "I look forward to a full disclosure of the facts, a good, honest appraisal of that which went on,...
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2004-00-02
Thursday, 02 December 2004 12:00 AM
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