Sunday, August 15, 2004

It depends upon what the meaning of the word "truce" is

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States said yesterday its military operations in Iraq are not covered by the so-called Olympic Truce it signed last year at the United Nations.

The State Department said US soldiers now fighting in Iraq would not be bound by the terms of the truce that calls for all nations in conflict to observe a traditional ceasefire during the Games.

“I reject the notion that somehow we are violating any Olympic principles by what’s going on in Iraq,” deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said. “I don’t think there’s a connection between the truce and what’s going on in Iraq.” On November 3, 2003, the United States was among 190 of 191 UN General Assembly members to co-sponsor and adopt a Greek-submitted resolution titled “Building a Peaceful and Better World Through Sport and the Olympic Ideals,” the key component of which was the truce.

The resolution “urges the member states to observe, within the framework of the Charter of the United Nations, the Olympic Truce, individually and collectively, during the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad.” Perhaps ironically, the US ambassador to the United Nations at the time was John Negroponte who is now Washington’s top diplomat in Iraq, the lone UN member not to sign the truce because it was then under a US-led occupation government and not represented at the world body.

Shortly after the resolution was adopted, UN chief Kofi Annan said the truce was a “powerful message” for all combatants to cease fighting and think about peace, even if hostilities stopped for only 24 hours.

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