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Annan's Oil-for-Food Role Still Being Studied


Kofi Annan (file photo)
A published report here in the United States says U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan initially failed to tell investigators of the oil-for-food program that he had taken part in meetings with members of the firm that employed his son, shortly before the Swiss company began soliciting U.N. business.

Associated Press says Mr. Annan recalled the meetings only after electronic records of his contacts were recovered from computers by the man working at the time as the United Nations' chief investigator on the case, Robert Parton.

The secretary-general's lawyer says Mr. Annan answered all questions truthfully, but he was inadequately prepared for his first conversation with investigators, and thus did not recall details of his previous meetings with the Cotecna firm that employed his son, Kojo.

Mr. Parton says his conclusions about Mr. Annan's comments were diluted and extensively revised before publication two months ago of a U.N. report on the oil-for-food scandal. The investigator resigned his U.N. post in protest, and has since been cooperating with a study by the U.S. Congress of how members of Saddam Hussein's regime managed to divert hundreds of millions of dollars from the oil-for-food program, which was originally intended to provide food and medicine for impoverished Iraqis.

Mr. Annan said Friday he is concentrating now on essential United Nations reforms, and that he does not expect questions about his past activities to derail that process. However, he added, "For some, the oil-for-food crisis will never die down."

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