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World - Reuters
Spain's Aznar Says UN Must Have Role in Iraq
Thu Mar 27, 1:51 PM ET
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MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar said on Thursday the United Nations (news - web sites) must take much of the responsibility in Iraq (news - web sites) after Saddam Hussein (news - web sites), in apparent contradiction of his close ally President Bush (news - web sites).

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Aznar joined his voice to those of British Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites) and French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin who have called for the United Nations to take a central role in the reconstruction and administration of Iraq.

"Without doubt, post-Saddam Iraq must be to a very great extent the responsibility of the United Nations," he said in an interview with local Onda Cero radio.

"There will be an initial phase of stabilization, then there will be a transition phase and then a phase of institutionalization," Aznar said.

"That is when many countries, Spain among them, and certainly also the United Nations will have a very great responsibility," he added.

The United States has said it will not cede post-war control of Iraq to the United Nations, as France and some other nations wish. Spain, together with Britain, have proved the staunchest U.S. allies in Europe during the Iraqi crisis.

When asked if he believed he was in agreement with Bush on the role of the United Nations, Aznar replied: "Yes, (we agree) to a large extent on the participation of the United Nations."

"However, we must finalize the details of that participation, guarantee the territorial integrity of Iraq, its sovereignty, and ensure its natural resources are reserved for Iraqis."

The offices of Aznar's ruling Popular Party have become a target for popular anti-war demonstrations in recent days as its support for the U.S.-led attack on Iraq has stirred increasing popular opposition.

Opinion polls show roughly nine out of every 10 Spaniards oppose the war in Iraq.

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