Secretary-General Kofi Annan met with Prime Minister John Howard of Australia today at United Nations Headquarters in New York, where they held discussions on a range of topics, including post-conflict Iraq and regional issues such as Timor-Leste and Bougainville.
Speaking at a press briefing afterwards, Mr. Howard told reporters he had indicated to the Secretary-General that it was necessary for all of the UN Member States to look forward in relation to the post-conflict period in Iraq as there was very little to be gained in rehashing old arguments.
The Prime Minister also stressed that as part of the coalition, Australia wished to see a restoration of basic services, and noted that "great progress" was already being made in relation to that.
"We want to see the affairs of Iraq handed back to the Iraqi people as soon as practicable," Mr. Howard said. "We want to see the emergence of a free and open government that is responsive to the wishes of the people of Iraq and I think all of the efforts of the world community should be directed towards that."
Asked about whether the United Nations would play a political role in post-conflict Iraq, as it had done during the meetings in Bonn, Germany, for Afghanistan, Mr. Howard responded that the United Nations could play a positive, constructive role.
"I think it is important to recognize that the effective administering authority in Iraq is the coalition, but consistent with that, there are many roles that can be discharged by the United Nations," he said, noting that the Organization was already playing an effective role in relation to humanitarian assistance, and could involved in issues such as human rights and organizing elections in the future.