UNITED NATIONS-Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar said yesterday that he will announce "D-Day," the date for a cease-fire in the Iran-Iraq war, after his fact-finding team returns from those countries this week and he consults the Security Council.
"The D-Day doesn't depend on the parties," Perez de Cuellar said, indicating he could make a unilateral decision and go ahead without the agreement of Iraq. Iran says it is ready to honor an immediate cease-fire.
Announcement of a date would put pressure on Iraq, which has insisted on direct talks with Iran before a ceasefire.Iran wants a truce first.
Perez de Cuellar said a U.N. military team ofexperts has left the region and the head of theteam will arrive in New York tomorrow with itsreport on arrangements for a ceasefire.
"I will study his report. I will be in touchwith members of the [Security] Council and then Iwill decide on a D-Day," the U.N. chief said.
He said he could not predict when he would makethe announcement or if it will be this week. Hesaid he would study the report Thursday and mightalso have to consult with Iranian and Iraqienvoys.
The direct talks issue has been an obstacle inthe talks, but Perez de Cuellar said, "The problemis not the concept of direct talks. The problem isthe timing, when the direct talks will take placeand I am working on it."
He said he hoped for "the shortest possibleperiod" between the announcement of a D-Day andthe beginning of a cease-fire.
In response to questions, the U.N. chief saidthat if he or the council declared a cease-fire"and one side does not respect it...that is forthe council to decide."
The secretary-general and Iran's foreignminister, Ali Akbar Velayati, met for three hoursyesterday in their sixth recent meeting.
Velayati later told reporters all major issueshave been covered in their meetings "and there isno substantial point [of disagreement] between usand the secretary general."
"Iran is immediately ready to implement [a U.N.peace] resolution by a cease-fire," Iran'sambassador, Mohammad Ja'afar Mahallati, toldreporters after the meeting.
Velayati said the Securty Council is obliged topunish Iraq after reading a U.N. experts' reportwhich concludes that Iraq made frequent andlarge-scale use of outlawed chemical weapons inthe war.
He added that even after the report of the U.N.team which visited Iran and Iraq in July, "Iraq isstill using the chemical weapons."
The detailed report mentioned nine Iraqisoldiers poisoned in a battle zone, allegedly in amustard gas attack by Iran.
The report was expected to increase pressure onIraq to accept a cease-fire. Other U.N. reportshave said Iraq used chemical weapons, which areoutlawed under the 1925 Geneva Convention, and theSecurity Council recently condemned use of theillegal weapons in the war.
Sadoun Hamadi, Iraqi minister of state forforeign affairs, earlier yesterday repeated hiscountry's insistence on direct talks before atruce during an appearance on state television inBaghdad.
"A cease-fire is not a sound beginning to endthe war," Hamadi said. "The correct and theshort-cut beginning for peace passes throughdirect negotiation.
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