WASHINGTON, DC (CWN) - UN Secretary General Kofi Annan warned the United States on Wednesday that it could lose its voting privileges in the General Assembly if it does not pay its back dues, which have been held up in Congress in a debate over funding of international abortion groups.

      Annan visited congressional leaders on Capitol Hill to discuss recent negotiations with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein over weapons inspections as well as $1 billion in back dues owed by the US to the UN. Annan said that if the United States does not pay its back dues by January, it could be found in violation of UN Section 19, which calls for nations in arrears to lose their vote in the General Assembly.

      Republicans pointed out that the US paid $3 billion to support UN peacekeeping operations last year, over and above any dues owed. Proposals that would have paid off the dues to the UN have been held up by amendments attached by pro-life Republicans that would have banned the use of US foreign aid by pro-abortion groups overseas to lobby foreign governments for the legalization of the practice or to perform abortions. Opposition by pro-abortion congressmen and the Clinton administration subsequently scuttled the bills.

      The House could vote as early as Thursday on a bill that would authorize $819 million in payments and waive $109 million the organization owes the US government, but President Clinton is again threatening a veto over the abortion issue.

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March 13-15, 1998 volume 9, no. 52         DAILY CATHOLIC