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Wednesday, 10 October, 2001, 03:27 GMT 04:27 UK
UN 'anxiety' over wider strikes
An Iraqi family watches the US strikes on Afghanistan on television
Iraq has been suggested as the next US target
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has admitted that Security Council members expressed "anxiety" over a statement from the United States that it might attack other countries in addition to Afghanistan in its campaign against terrorism.

He was referring to a letter from the US ambassador to the UN, John Negroponte, which read: "We may find that our self-defence requires further actions with respect to other organisations and other states."

We may find that our self-defence requires further actions with respect to other organisations and other states

US ambassador to the UN
Some quarters of the US administration have been reported to be keen to extend the campaign to Iraq, which has been living under a UN-imposed embargo ever since the Gulf War in 1991.

Asked about the letter, Mr Annan said: "The one sentence which has caused some anxiety among the members, which I have also asked about, was a question that they may find it necessary to go after other organisations and other states."

He said the US had subsequently indicated it was "basically a statement that they are at the early stages and keeping their options open".

US ambassador to the UN, John Negroponte
Negroponte: Warned Iraq not to exploit the current situation
But he added: "That is the one line that disturbed some of us."

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's government has been on the US list of countries said to be sponsoring terrorism for years.

The Iraqi UN ambassador to the UN, Mohammed al-Douri, said his country had no reason to fear attack from the US "because we are not involved in what happened on 11 September".

Diplomats said Mr Negroponte met Mr al-Douri on Sunday and read him a letter which warned Iraq not to take advantage of the current focus on military action in Afghanistan.

The BBC correspondent at the UN says the US is concerned that Baghdad might think it can catch America off-guard.

Our correspondent says the American message is that it will not tolerate any action against opposition groups inside Iraq or against neighbouring countries.

See also:

09 Oct 01 | Americas
UN Security Council backs attacks
09 Oct 01 | Middle East
Syria gets UN security seat
08 Oct 01 | World
Raids split US friends and foes
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