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Splits Over Iraq Subside - UN Urges Joint Efforts

With Splits Over Iraq Subsiding, Annan Urges Joint Efforts To Face New Challenges

Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said differences over Iraq that had plagued the United Nations in the past are subsiding, and stressed that unity is essential to tackling a range of global ills. Speaking to reporters in New York, the Secretary-General said he reviewed various regional hotspots during talks this morning with French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, who is at the UN for a meeting on Liberia's reconstruction.

Also attending that event is United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, who had a scheduled lunch with Mr. Villepin - a development Mr. Annan called "positive."

"Governments are putting the divisions over Iraq behind them," he said. "Everyone understands that we have many issues to cooperate on besides Iraq."

The Secretary-General said that during recent talks with US President George W. Bush the two agreed on the need to cooperate not only on Iraq but also "on other conflicts in Africa, on the fight against poverty, HIV/AIDS, and a whole range of issues."

He noted that European leaders, who he met with earlier this year, "were also ready to put the issue behind them." The planned lunch between Secretary Powell and Minister de Villepin "is not surprising at all - it's an evolution in the right direction, and it's natural in the scheme of things," he said. "I think we should all pool our efforts and work together [to] stabilize Iraq and confront our other challenges."

Asked about reports of nuclear technology transfers in Pakistan, Mr. Annan said "proliferation is alive" and called for support to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in order to contain the problem.

He added that President Pervez Musharraf had told him last month that Pakistan will work to combat trafficking and deal firmly with those involved.

On the Middle East, Mr. Annan said he had a "very frank and long conversation" this morning with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "He did tell me that he fully respects the Road Map, and that they expect the Quartet members also to play their role in working with the parties and in taking steps to ensure that there is an end to terror."

The Road Map is an outline for achieving a two-State solution put forward by the Quartet, which comprises the US, UN, Russian Federation and European Union.

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