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Annan predicts expanded UN role in promoting broad-based Afghan Government

Annan predicts expanded UN role in promoting broad-based Afghan Government

Kofi Annan and spokesman Fred Eckhard at news conference
Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said the United Nations could be given a greater role in helping Afghans to form a new and more inclusive government and stressed that the speedy end of the military strikes could enable the UN to expand its aid efforts.

"For us, what I would want to see is an end to the military operations as quickly as possible so that we can get on with our work," Mr. Annan told a news conference in Geneva. "I suspect those undertaking the operation should also want to see that, because we need to be able to step up our humanitarian operation and help the people."

"It is quite likely that the Security Council may give us an expanded mandate in the sense of requiring me and the Secretariat to use our good offices and encourage Afghans to form a broad-based Government," the Secretary-General said, adding that discussions were also under way concerning security arrangements for Afghanistan once military action has ceased.

Answering questions from the press, the Secretary-General emphasized that the issue of an Afghan government was "first and foremost" a problem for the Afghan people. "The United Nations has been working with them over a long period of several years, trying to get them to form a broad-based government," he said. "We do not know how the situation will evolve, but if a new Afghan government were to emerge, we are prepared to assist them and work with them and promote a broad-based government."

"The United Nations will be prepared to assist and give them technical assistance, but at this stage I do not see the UN going in to run Afghanistan as a protectorate," Mr. Annan noted.

On the humanitarian front, the Secretary-General said the clashes were hampering the UN's work. "We do have disruptions from the ground, from the Taliban, where in some cases they have looted our warehouses and interfered with our humanitarian workers, but the air operation is also an impediment," he said.

The UN was attempting to deliver some 50,000 to 60,000 tonnes of food aid each month, but had only been able to deliver about half that amount, he noted. "So obviously it will be in our interest to see air action end as soon as possible so that we can step up our deliveries to ensure that we are prepared for the winter."

Asked about the fight against terrorism, the Secretary-General repeated his longstanding position that it would be won only through sustained international cooperation. "If we do cooperate, I think we will make good progress in the struggle," he said, stressing that he would disagree with those who said that the United Nations was sidelined in the fight against terrorism. "In fact, on the key issues, the initiatives and the foundation are being laid by the United Nations," he said.

Mr. Annan, who was in Geneva to address the Global Employment Forum, also held a number of bilateral meetings today, including a discussion with the Prime Minister of Denmark, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen. In addition, Mr. Annan met with Jacques Klein, his Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Vladimir Petrovsky, the Director-General of the UN Office at Geneva and Carlo Lamprecht, the President of the Republic and Canton of Geneva.