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Annan: Veto Council Members Will Build Consensus

Annan says talks on Iraq with veto-wielding Council members will help build consensus

Seeking to foster progress on the international approach to Iraq, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan met today in Geneva with senior officials from each of the Security Council's five veto-wielding States ? China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“The meeting with the five Permanent Members of the Security Council today enabled us to conduct a thorough review of the main issues of Iraq and to do so in a constructive atmosphere with a view to identifying the points of convergence,” he said after emerging from the talks, which dealt with both the current security situation as well as a future multilateral force authorized by the Security Council.

Mr. Annan said the meeting was not expected to generate instant results. “Discussions today were not intended, I repeat not intended, to devise specific solutions,” he said. “They will contribute to building a consensus towards the future of Iraq, including the definition of a UN role.”

Stressing the importance of concerted action, he observed that “a unified approach by the Permanent Members would make it easier for the Security Council as a whole to devise an effective policy.”

He was optimistic that consensus is “essential and achievable,” but added that this would not be enough. “The Council's approach must be coherent and well defined,” he said.

All participants, he reported, “share the aspiration to transfer power to the Iraqi people as soon as possible.”

During the closed-door meeting, the Secretary-General said he “conveyed the concerns of the humanitarian community that it requires both adequate military deployment and a clear political horizon for the transfer of authority to Iraqi institutions.”

On the Middle East, the P-5 reaffirmed their commitment to the Road Map outlined by the diplomatic Quartet ? the United States, UN, Russian Federation and European Union. “The Permanent Members of the Security Council recognized that both sides have obligations under the Quartet's Road Map and must fulfill them and that it is now essential to go ahead with its implementation,” he said.

Top representatives of the Quartet are scheduled to meet in New York later this month “to consider all relevant aspects of the issue and determine how best help the parties move forward with the process,” he added.

To a press question on the UN's role in transferring sovereignty to Iraq, Mr. Annan said “it is the population and people of Iraq who should assume authority, but the United Nations is ready to work with them and help them.”

Asked about Council action, he said “the vital thing is not just voting but having a solid and workable resolution, a resolution we can put into effect and will help us in our efforts on the ground and may also help convince the people in Iraq that we are handing government back to them and working with them.”

“To win the minds and hearts of the Iraqis should also be a part of the process,” he added. “Not just what military assets are needed.”

At the outset of the session, the Secretary-General requested that a moment of silence be observed in memory of the late Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, who died after being stabbed in a Stockholm department store last week.

He called her “a true internationalist and a determined friend of the United Nations,” and paid tribute to “her personality, her dynamism, her intellect and the passion with which she defended causes she so strongly believed in.”

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