"It is my strong conviction that the responsibility for disarming Iraq should rest with the United Nations. As a matter of conscience I question the United States government's apparent intention to commence war in Iraq. I believe that coming to America at this time would be perceived in many parts of the worldrightly or wronglyas support for this policy, and that, as a consequence, it is inappropriate to perform in the US at this juncture.
"I understand that there are many in the US who do not support the idea of their government initiating war in Iraq at this time, and I offer my greatest respect to them. I also regret the difficulties this causes those who were to present my concerts in North America and those who were looking forward to seeing me and my band. This tour was over a year and a half in the planning and was the greatest commitment I had ever made to performing in the US.
"It is my fervent wish to return to the US in better times. But I find it impossible to imagine playing concerts in America when such grave issues are confronting all the peoples of the world."
More on Youssou N'Dour by Robert Christgau:
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.