Annan welcomes new US envoy as Ted Turner brings cheque to back US-UN ties

Annan welcomes new US envoy as Ted Turner brings cheque to back US-UN ties

Amb. John Negroponte presenting credentials to Secretary-General
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today received the credentials of the new United States Permanent Representative to the UN, John D. Negroponte, who later joined Mr. Annan in welcoming American philanthropist Ted Turner as he presented a cheque for over $31 million to help cover US dues to the world body.

Greeting the new chief delegate, the Secretary-General said Ambassador Negroponte's arrival came at a critical time just as the international community was thinking of putting together a coalition to fight terrorism in the wake of last week's terrorist attacks against the United States.

"We're going to have a lot to do together," Mr. Annan said. "I think you must have seen the resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly, the sort of unanimous condemnation and support that came out of the membership and their desire to move ahead and work together to fight this scourge."

Later, at a ceremonial handover of Mr. Turner's cheque in the Secretary-General's office at UN Headquarters, both Mr. Annan and Ambassador Negroponte praised Mr. Turner for stepping in with his donation to help solve the problem of US payment of arrears.

"Although this cheque is made out to the Department of State, it is Mr. Turner's very, very generous contribution to the resolution of the longstanding problem of the payment of arrears," said Ambassador Negroponte.

For his part, Mr. Annan said that without Mr. Turner's contribution, the deal probably would not have been possible. "He came in the nick of time and we are all very, very grateful that we've put this thorny issue behind us," the Secretary-General said. "Now we can move forward as a family of nations focussed on our essential work with the Member States paying their dues in full and on time and without conditions."

Mr. Turner pledged his own money to help make up the shortfall from a deal reached last December that lowered the assessment of US dues to 22 per cent of the UN's regular budget from the previous rate of 25 per cent. Today's payment comes ahead of plans by the US Congress to release $582 million in US arrears to the UN later this week.