Annan Pushes efforts toward Security Cl consensus
Iraq: Annan pushes ahead with efforts to achieve Security Council consensus
Pushing his efforts to achieve consensus on the next steps in Iraq, Secretary-General Kofi Annan planned to meet today with the remaining members of the United Nations Security Council following his weekend talks with the Foreign Ministers of the 15-nation body's five veto-wielding powers in Geneva.
Returning to UN Headquarters in New York today, Mr. Annan played down reported differences between the United States, which currently runs the Coalition Provisional Authority ruling Iraq, and France, which is said to want a much speedier transfer to an interim Iraqi authority and accelerated writing of a constitution and general elections. The other three members at the Geneva meeting were China, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom.
"You shouldn't forget that this was the first time since the war that the permanent five have sat in one room to discuss this crucial issue of Iraq," he told reporters. "And right from the beginning we had issued a statement that we had not gone to Geneva to settle the resolution; besides, it will require the entire Council to settle that resolution."
He noted that he would be meeting with them again at his annual meeting with Foreign Ministers at the end of the week.
Asked about the timetable for restoring Iraqi sovereignty, he said: "Everybody agrees that we should try and hand over power to the Iraqis as soon as possible. All five in Geneva agree. I think that disagreements have been overplayed in the press, quite frankly. I think there are objectives which are shared. The question is, how do you get there, and how best do we organize ourselves to get it done."
Stressing that it was not a question of the UN taking over Iraq, Mr. Annan said: "As I have indicated, we believe that we can assist the Iraqis in administering their own territory. It is not a question of the UN running Iraq. Obviously, the UN can play a role, but as I have indicated that role has to be clearly defined by the Council. It has to be achievable and of course, the security environment should also permit us to play our role."
In reply to another question, he added: "Some people, when they talk about a UN role, seem to think the UN is going to take over the country and run it. That has never been the issue. Nor is the UN interested in taking over the security aspects and putting UN blue helmets (peacekeepers) on the ground. So we have to be very clear what it is that the UN is being asked to do.
"We have had very good experience in facilitating political processes, helping countries that have been in difficulties to re-establish democratically elected governments, helping them draft a constitution and a whole range of activities that we have had experience doing and would be able to do. But we are not going to go in and run Iraq."
Mr. Annan convened the Geneva meeting as the United States prepared to submit a new resolution to the Council, which according to published reports would create a multinational force for Iraq led by Washington and authorized by the UN in an effort to win greater participation from countries unwilling to serve without UN authorization.