United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan began a second day of bilateral meetings with world leaders today on the margins of the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate, conferring with Ahmad Chalabi, who currently holds the rotating Presidency of the 25-member Iraqi Governing Council.
With dozens of Heads of State and Government in town to address the Assembly during its two-week long general debate, Mr. Annan met yesterday with United States President George W. Bush, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, French President Jacques Chirac and Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien among others.
He is expected to discuss a whole raft of issues ranging from the UN role in bringing peace to Iraq to the fundamental reforms he has called for in the world body’s institutions, including the Security Council.
Other leaders he was meeting today included President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the UN has a peacekeeping mission, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, current president of the European Union and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
He was also conferring with the Foreign Ministers of the 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council.
In his meeting with Mr. Chalabi, Mr. Annan voiced concern about the condition of his own staff in view of last month’s terrorist attack on UN headquarters in Baghdad and the general security situation in Iraq, a spokesman for the Secretary-General said.
“Mr. Chalabi specifically expressed the hope that the UN would maintain a presence in Iraq,” Fred Eckhard said. “The Secretary General responded that the safety of our staff there is paramount. He is keeping that matter under constant review and he repeated a line from his speech (to the General Assembly) yesterday, that subject to security conditions, the UN system is prepared to play a full role in working for a satisfactory outcome in Iraq.”
In reply to a question, the spokesman said there just under 60 international staff in Baghdad and a similar number in the northern Iraq, with over 4,000 national staff.