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Annan appeals for healing Security Council rifts on Iraq

Annan appeals for healing Security Council rifts on Iraq

Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Secretary-General Kofi Annan today appealed for a healing of the rifts within the United Nations Security Council that marked the run-up to the war in Iraq as the international community now seeks to help that country return to normalcy and rejoin the family of nations.

“What is important for us as we look forward to the future is that we try…to heal the divisions which emerged before the war and focus on the constructive efforts we are going to make in Iraq,” he told reporters after meeting with Austrian President Thomas Klestil during an official visit to Vienna.

Mr. Annan said it was also important while working on Iraq not to forget the other major challenges requiring international cooperation such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Afghanistan and the fight against terrorism and poverty. “So I hope we will all realize that we need each other and that we need to come together and focus on what needs to be done,” he added.

Asked what the natural role for the UN should be after the war, he said: “Let me say that there are many governments in the region and beyond who believe that the UN should have an important role to play…I think you know from experience and history that the UN has played important roles in many countries regarding the reconstruction, facilitation of political processes, human rights, a whole range of issues.

“We are coordinating the humanitarian activities now, but the Council will determine the additional responsibilities that the UN will take on, in consultation with others, of course,” he concluded.

Earlier Tuesday, the Secretary-General met with the staff of the UN Office at Vienna (UNOV) and reiterated that the UN had an important role to play in Iraq. He said that he expects, in the not-too-distant future, that “we should be able to come to some understanding as to how collectively we pool our efforts to work with the Iraqi people to establish a peaceful, stable Iraq, run by and for the Iraqis.”

Asked about the challenges the UN faces because of the Iraq crisis, the Secretary-General told the staff: “The UN has been through crises before, and I hope and trust we will come through this one.” What is important now, he added, is to heal the differences that emerged as a result of the crisis, which he believes can be done if the post-conflict situation is handled well.

“For the moment we are coordinating the humanitarian efforts in Iraq. As the situation settles, more and more of our staff are going back and we would hope in the not too distant future to be fully re-established but we would also need to work with the Iraqis to re-establish the distribution system that existed to allow us to be able to implement fully the oil-for food scheme for which we are responsible.”