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UN chief welcomes end of 'horrible' year

09:37 AEST Wed Dec 22 2004

AP - UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was relieved that a horrible year was coming to an end.

He reiterated he has no intention of resigning over allegations of corruption in the UN oil-for-food program and plans to move ahead with sweeping changes at the United Nations.

He told a year-end news conference the oil-for-food allegations "have cast a shadow over an operation that brought relief to millions of Iraqis" and expressed hope that an investigation led by former US Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker would "find out the truth as quickly as possible."

Addressing questions about calls for his resignation in the US Congress, Annan said, "I have the confidence of member states".

He said he would move ahead with preparations for a summit in September 2005 where world leaders will hopefully adopt major UN reforms to address global security threats in the 21st century.

Nonetheless, the secretary-general said, "I'm relieved this annus horribilis has come to an end," using the Latin words for a "horrible year."

Annan disclosed that Volcker's first report in January would be accompanied by reports of UN internal audits of the oil-for-food program, which have sought by US Congressional investigators also probing the corruption allegations.

Looking ahead, Annan said, "I see important openings for peace" but he said continuing violence in Iraq could influence voter turnout in Iraq's January 30 election.

04:29 AEST Wed Sep 14 2005

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