Annan to U.S.: Ante Up

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Kofi Annan may feel like he has the raw end of the deal Wednesday. While his appointed deputy, Jayantha Dhanapala, touches down in Baghdad to head up the diplomatic posse that will enter the long-disputed presidential palaces, the secretary general embarks on a rather riskier mission: Selling the U.N. in Washington. And Annan, ever the consummate diplomat, will be making his own pointed diplomatic gesture -- by steering well clear of Capitol Hill. <

That's hardly surprising, when Congress still sulkily refuses to pay an ever-rising U.S. debt to the U.N. -- $1.7 billion and counting. President Clinton is sending a bill to the Hill that would cover $1 billion of that -- but what Annan will want to know is whether any strings will be attached. Last year, Jesse Helms' bid to get $800 million out of his compadres was scuppered by an antiabortion rider in the House. The last thing the secretary general wants is a repeat of that farce. "Other countries in essence provide interest-free loans to cover largely American-created shortfalls," Annan wrote recently in the New York Times. Perhaps he'd have better luck passing the hat back to Ted Turner.