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Bush to Emphasize Development, Org. Reform at U.N.

Bush to Emphasize Development, Organizational Reform at U.N.

National Security Council briefs on president's General Assembly visit

By Michael O'Toole
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- On September 13 and September 14, President Bush will participate in the 60th United Nations General Assembly “where he will stress the U.S. commitment to [a] broad international agenda that recognizes the connection between freedom, democracy, trade and development, and security,” according to Michael Kozak, the National Security Council’s (NSC) senior director for democracy, human rights and international organizations.

Kozak and his NSC colleague John Simon, senior director for relief stabilization and development, outlined the president’s U.N. visit during a press briefing September 9. Development and institutional reform within the U.N. are atop Bush’s agenda.

The United States will “continue to work with global partners, public and private, to achieve historic victories over poverty, hunger and disease,” Kozak said. He reminded reporters that the Bush administration “has nearly doubled overseas development assistance, from $10 billion in 2000 to an estimated $19 billion in 2004; undertaken the largest international health initiative to combat HIV/AIDS; and provided nearly 60 percent of the global food aid to the continent of Africa.”

Recalling last year’s General Assembly, when Bush proposed a U.N. Democracy Fund to help other nations build democratic institutions, Kozak said, “This year, that U.N. institution is a reality, and President Bush will join Secretary-General Annan and other leaders in inaugurating this new institution.”

In addition to meeting with Annan and the incoming General Assembly president, Kozak said President Bush also will host a reception for other world leaders and meet privately with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Bush also will meet for an hour with Chinese President Hu Jintao, whose scheduled visit to Washington earlier in September was postponed due to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Kozak said a more substantive meeting between the two leaders will happen at a later date.

When asked about the specifics of U.N. reform the president would be calling for, Kozak responded that “the key ones are management reforms … like giving the secretary-general actual authority to move people around from one job to another” and “funding the Inspector General's Office, where the people who are funding it aren't the ones who are being inspected.”

Kozak acknowledged that reform negotiations were still ongoing. “But the themes that they're working on [include] improvements in the human rights machinery of the U.N., [and] improvements in coordination amongst U.N. agencies in post-conflict situations,” he said.

The reporters raised questions about the two speeches Bush would be giving. Kozak responded that the longer, or “major,” speech would occur on the morning of September 14, when “you have the incoming and outgoing presidents of the General Assembly. The president would follow the secretary general in “addressing the plenary of the General Assembly high-level leaders.” The president also will give a shorter speech to the Security Council Summit later September 14.

Insofar as the speech’s content was concerned, Kozak told the reporters to “stay tuned.” He reminded them that “the summit was called to review where we are on development efforts. It's also addressing the U.N. reform topics.”

“[W]e see all of this as part of a whole -- the war on terror, development and trade, fighting disease, promoting democracy,” Kozak said. “[S]o I think what you'll see from the president, if you look at the event or his visit in totality, is that he's hitting each one of those elements of the overall policy in one fashion or another.”

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