Annan says insecurity prevents return of large UN team to Iraq

13 April 2004
Kofi Annan speaks to reporters

Despite having its movements restricted as a result of the deteriorating security environment in Iraq, the United Nations mission led by Special Adviser Lakhdar Brahimi continued to consult with a wide range of Iraqi constituencies today, although Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he did not anticipate the return of a large UN team in the "foreseeable future."

Speaking to reporters upon returning to work at UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Annan said the deteriorating situation and violence in Iraq have made the work of the UN team on the ground difficult.

"For the foreseeable future, insecurity is going to be a major constraint for us and so I cannot say right now that I'm going to be sending in a large UN team," he said. "Obviously, we are monitoring the situation very closely and we are doing the best we can and I will have a better sense when Mr. Brahimi is back and we reassess the situation."

The Secretary-General added that governments are also aware that "it is in our collective interest to do everything we can to bring the violence down in Iraq," and that he hoped the situation could calm down before the transfer of power planned for 30 June.

Asked if that deadline was still credible, Mr. Annan said it would be difficult for it to be changed. "It has been embraced by the Iraqis themselves, who are anxious to see the end of occupation as soon as possible," he said.

"That having been said, I hope we are going to be able to bring down the violence and control the situation between now and then because the kind of violence we are seeing on the ground is not conducive for that sort of political process and transition," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Brahimi and his team met with the Iraqi Cabinet of Ministers today - the tenth day of his current visit - to review with them his observations on the political process and the country's transition to sovereignty.

Finally, Mr. Brahimi met with Dr. Mahmoud Othman, a leading Kurdish member of the Governing Council, and a group of 21 people representing all walks of life in Iraq, from professionals, doctors, women and journalists to non-governmental organizations (NGOs), university professors and tribal leaders.


Video of Annan's remarks to reporters [11mins]


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