Following meetings today with United States President George W. Bush and other senior US officials in Washington, D.C., Secretary-General Kofi Annan said they had indicated their desire to honour the country's financial obligations to the world body.
Speaking to reporters upon his return to New York, Mr. Annan said that both President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell "are very supportive of the UN and believe that there should be no withholding of the funds -- it's the wrong thing to do."
Mr. Annan was remarking on a recent decision by the US Congress to attach an amendment to the bill authorizing the dues payment which would withhold a portion if Washington does not regain its seat on the Geneva-based UN Commission on Human Rights. Mr. Annan stressed that President Bush had indicated "that he would also want to see the dues paid without any withholding."
"My sense is that they would want to see the US honour the understanding that was reached last year and pay a substantial portion of their arrears, and of course continue to pay its annual contribution both on the regular budget and peacekeeping," Mr. Annan observed. "As Secretary-General of the UN, I've always maintained that these dues are legal obligations and they have to be paid by all Member States in full, on time and without conditions."
The Secretary-General also pointed to the US cooperation with the UN on the AIDS issue -- the main purpose of today's meeting in Washington, which culminated with a pledge by President Bush of $200 million to Mr. Annan's proposed global fund to fight AIDS. "The signals are good, they are going to work with us and I'm looking forward to working with them," the Secretary-General said.