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Iraqi envoy to U.N. asks for asylum

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UNITED NATIONS — An Iraqi diplomat serving in Iraq's mission to the United Nations has requested asylum in the United States for himself and his family, diplomatic sources confirmed Tuesday.

The Iraqi diplomat was one of three or four diplomats at the Iraqi mission who were scheduled to return home to Iraq this month, according to diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity.

One senior diplomat said three Iraqi officials apparently made the request to New York police on Friday. But a police source could only confirm one request.

Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammed al-Douri, said that three or four career diplomats were supposed to return to Iraq but he did not know if they had.

"If someone wants to stay, what can we do?" he told The Associated Press. Al-Douri would not directly confirm or deny the report.

A New York City police source said a man walked into a Manhattan precinct on Friday with his wife and at least one child and said he wanted to defect. Police immediately handed the case over to federal authorities, the source said.

Meanwhile, in a victory for Baghdad, the U.N. humanitarian program in Iraq was expected to be extended Tuesday for an additional five months, the result of Russian threats to veto a U.S.-British proposal to overhaul sanctions.