Annan wraps up Iraq briefing sessions with all UN members

Annan wraps up Iraq briefing sessions with all UN members

Kofi Annan
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today wrapped up his weeklong briefings of all UN Member States on the current humanitarian situation in Iraq.

"We basically discussed the humanitarian situation and the efforts that are being made by the United Nations, and of course there were also questions about post-conflict Iraq," the Secretary-General told reporters following his meeting with the Latin American and Caribbean Group; he had met with the African Group earlier Friday. "We briefed them on our efforts to get assistance to Iraq, wherever we can, but this would depend on means and access. Wherever we have access, we will try and reach the needy and we will do cross-border and cross-line operations."

The Secretary-General said the meeting also touched on the question of the post-conflict situation and what the UN will do. "I think it is obvious that the UN will play an important role in post-conflict Iraq," he said. "The exact nature and extent of that role is being discussed now among the members, but the UN has had quite a lot of experience with situations like this, and I hope the members will rally in trying to assist the people of Iraq, and Iraq. However this war ends, we will be ready to play our part."

Mr. Annan met the States in the framework of the five regional groupings beginning on Tuesday to exchange views with them. On Monday, he met separately with the Arab Group, which is not one of the regional groups, and on Wednesday he also met the 15 members of the Security Council for lunch at his office to discuss Iraq.

In other news, the Security Council has endorsed the Secretary-General's recommendation to retain in Kuwait City for a further three months a small logistics headquarters of the UN Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM) to support UN activities in the region, where the world body is currently concentrating on humanitarian relief.

A letter from the Council President to the Secretary-General released today noted that the Council members concurred with Mr. Annan's recommendation to retain peacekeeping presence until 6 July.

Mr. Annan withdrew all UNIKOM personnel from the border region on the eve of hostilities in Iraq but maintained a small headquarters consisting of 12 military officers, 20 essential civilian staff and some local personnel in Kuwait City.

UNIKOM was set up in 1991 after the war that followed Iraq's invasion of Kuwait to monitor the demilitarized zone between the two countries.