UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- As world leaders wrapped up their annual session at the United Nations, it was clear that the U.S.-Iraq standoff had stolen the show despite much-lauded plans to focus on African development, the AIDS epidemic and education.
The General Assembly heard from 188 speakers during the nine-day meeting that ended Friday -- including 47 heads of state or government, two vice presidents, 14 deputy prime ministers, one crown prince and 110 foreign ministers.
But many say their voices were drowned out by the furor over Iraq. For some it wasn't the first time they had been upstaged.
Last year's General Assembly debate, put off until November because of the events of Sept. 11, focused almost entirely on terrorism.
This time, the Iraq issue dominated, starting with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's opening remarks urging the United States to bring its case against Iraq to the U.N. Security Council, rather than attack unilaterally.
President Bush then issued an ultimatum to get tough with Iraq, which has failed to comply with a decade of council resolutions demanding that it admit weapons inspectors and disarm. If the Security Council wouldn't act, the United States would, Bush said.
Sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait cannot be lifted until U.N. inspectors certify that its weapons of mass destruction have been destroyed. Inspectors left in 1998 ahead of U.S. and British airstrikes to punish Iraq for non-compliance and have not been permitted to return.
Iraq surprised the world Monday by accepting the unconditional return of inspectors -- a development that quickly divided Security Council members and set off days of diplomatic wrangling.
Some leaders expressed dismay that Iraq had pushed other issues to the sidelines.
Annan opened "Africa day" with a call to fight AIDS, promote education for girls and support the New Partnership for Africa's Development.
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