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Annan Sees 'Important Openings' In 2005

Annan Sees 'Important Openings' In 2005 To Bring Peace To Global Hotspots

Seeking to put behind a difficult 12 months of controversy surrounding the United Nations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today looked ahead towards 2005 as a year of opportunity to bring peace to several hotspots around the world.

Speaking at his annual year-end press conference in New York, the Secretary-General said he saw "important openings" for peace in such troubled areas as Afghanistan, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Sudan.

He acknowledged that allegations of corruption and mismanagement within the UN Oil-for-Food programme had "cast a shadow" over an operation that brought relief to millions of Iraqis.

"We must find out the truth as quickly as possible," he stressed.

Mr. Annan said he intended to make public when it is released in January an interim report by former US Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, who is heading an independent probe into the multi-billion humanitarian operation which ceased operation in November 2003.

Looking at the year ahead, the Secretary-General underscored the opportunity to build a framework for a more secure world based on the recommendations of a blue-ribbon commission that looked at emerging international threats and ways to deal with them.

He said he was heartened by the reaction in many capitals to the report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, which he said "lays out a powerful vision of collective security and calls for sweeping changes of the United Nations."

"In the period ahead, States must work together to build a shared global framework for collective security in the 21st century, and forge a truly global partnership for development," he declared. "I will be working to help them do so, through a renewed United Nations."

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