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Annan & Powell discuss security in Baghdad

Annan and Powell discuss increased security after Baghdad terrorist bombing

Determined to boost the safety of United Nations staff and stay the course in Iraq despite Tuesday’s deadly terrorist bombing, Secretary-General Kofi Annan discussed additional security measures today with United States Secretary of State Colin Powell.

“We have had a chance to review what needs to be done to strengthen our security and to continue our operations,” Mr. Annan told a joint news conference after meeting Mr. Powell at UN Headquarters in New York.

Mr. Powell said he was “very pleased” that Mr. Annan had reaffirmed that the United Nations would be staying in Baghdad, following the bombing that killed top UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello, and at least 21 others, and injured scores more.

“We will be working with the United Nations representatives in Baghdad on security matters,” Mr. Powell added. “We want the humanitarian workers and other workers in Iraq, the construction workers and others, to have a safe environment. It is a challenging environment but we will work closely with the United Nations to make sure that they can perform their work in as safe an environment as is possible considering the circumstances.”

Asked whether he was comfortable with the idea of expanding the UN mandate in Iraq, Mr. Annan made clear that, if it were expanded, maintaining security would not be part of it.

“We have focussed on the economic and political and reconstruction, and on the question of the security, we have no intention of recommending UN Blue Helmets,” he said, referring to the nickname given to UN peacekeepers for the colour of their helmets.

Overseeing security arrangements was the province of a multinational force, “with the UN focussing on the economic, political and social areas where we do our best work, including the [humanitarian],” he added.

In a closed-door briefing with the Security Council yesterday, Mr. Annan emphasized that security was ultimately the responsibility of the United States-run Coalition Provisional Authority.

Asked today whether he saw consensus in the Council on Iraq in view of earlier divisions over the war, he replied: “I think it is possible. I think it is possible to get a consensus, but it will take work, it will take consultations and negotiations, but I will not exclude it…An Iraq that is destabilized, an Iraq that is in chaos, is not in the interest of the region or the world, and we do have a responsibility to ensure that.”

Briefing the Council later, the main coalition partners, the United Kingdom and United States, expressed their sorrow at the deaths of Mr. Vieira de Mello and his colleagues and said efforts were underway to strengthen security.

US Ambassador John Negroponte said more than 30 nations had sent or committed forces to promote stability in Iraq, and efforts were continuing to engage other nations as well.

UK Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry invited the Council to hold a comprehensive discussion to determine the scope for action that would further the achievement of a successful Iraq. Among the priorities was the need to enhance security, and it was necessary to consider what the Security Council needed to do in that respect, he added.

The other members of the Council responded to the briefing with statements

Mr. Annan is scheduled to meet UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw tomorrow.


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