UNITED NATIONS April 8 —
Secretary-General Kofi Annan heads to Europe on Wednesday to seek
consensus from Security Council members on a U.N. role in the
reconstruction of Iraq.
Annan's trip to France, Germany, Britain and Russia will follow a
summit in Northern Ireland between President Bush and British Prime
Minister Tony Blair where the future of Iraq was a top agenda
The United States remains at odds with much of the council
including its closest ally, Britain on what the U.N.'s role should
The Bush administration says the U.S.-led coalition fighting in
Iraq must take the lead in running and rebuilding Iraq. The European
Union wants the United Nations to be a major player.
Annan on Monday advocated "an important role" for the U.N. in
rebuilding Iraq, stressing that only the world body can bring
legitimacy to the job. He also picked the day Bush and Blair met to
introduce the Security Council to Rafeeuddin Ahmed, his new special
adviser on post-conflict issues.
Ahmed is a former Pakistani diplomat who spent 30 years at the
U.N. and rose to the post of assistant secretary-general. Since
February, he has been working for Annan on a possible U.N. role in
Iraq. His appointment officially makes him the focal point for
discussions with council members and other U.N. states on a possible
During Annan's 90-minute meeting in his office with the 15
council ambassadors, the council's divisions over the war surfaced
The United States attacked Iraq without authorization from the
council following strong opposition from France, Russia, Germany and
China, which believed that Iraq could be disarmed peacefully.
U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said the United Nations won't be
"I'm sure there's going to be a role for the United Nations and
that's going to have to be further discussed," he said. "People
shouldn't be surprised if the coalition is going to take the lead in
Iraq, given the fact that it's the coalition that has basically
sacrificed its blood and treasure to achieve the outcome that now
seems to be inevitable."
France's U.N. ambassador, Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, expressed
hope the Security Council can unite on a central role for the U.N.
after the war. Diplomats also said Russia made clear that any
post-conflict involvement in Iraq by the United Nations must not
legitimize the war.
Annan will be in Paris on Thursday, Berlin and London on Friday
and St. Petersburg, Russia on Saturday, his spokesman said.
The United Nations is certain to be involved in humanitarian
efforts, and Annan stressed its expertise in facilitating new or
interim administrations in countries that are emerging from
conflict. He also cited U.N. experience in working with donors and
U.N. agencies on reconstruction, and on promoting human rights and
the rule of law.
But senior Bush administration officials have made clear they
don't want the United Nations putting together a new political
structure in Iraq, as it did in Afghanistan. Bush has chosen retired
Lt. Gen. Jay Garner to head the Pentagon's new Office of
Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, and he is expected to be
the civil administrator of Iraq when the war ends.
"They see it as part of the war effort," Annan said of Garner's
operation. Its aim is "eventually to try to pacify the situation and
secure the environment before one moves on to the next stage."
|U.N. Secretary-General Kofi
Annan, right, meets with members of the U.N. Security Council
to discuss the reconstruction of post-war Iraq at United
Nations headquarters, Monday, April 7, 2003. Also seen are
Britain's Jeremy Greenstock, center left and U.S. Ambassador
John Negroponte, center right.(AP Photo/The United Nations,
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