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More than 2,700 UN staff sign letter of support for Secretary-General

More than 2,700 UN staff sign letter of support for Secretary-General

More than 2,700 staff members of the United Nations Secretariat have signed a letter expressing their support for Secretary-General Kofi Annan at a time when the organization has faced allegations about its integrity.

"More than ever, we support the Secretary-General in his balanced, fair and substantive approach," said a letter circulated in recent days through the UN's internal e-mail system.

"We also express our determination to continue to improve the workings and effectiveness of this Organization. We can make the case for the UN and be resolute, while remaining true to our mission around the world - dedication to peace and development."

The letter is the latest expression of support by UN workers for Mr. Annan, coming on the heels of resolutions adopted by UN union leaders in Geneva, New York and Vienna voicing "full confidence" in the Secretary-General.

At the daily press briefing in New York, Mr. Annan's spokesman said senior managers - including the Secretary-General's Chief of Staff, the Under-Secretary-General for Management and the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management - will meet today with the President of the Staff Council, Rosemary Waters.

The Secretary-General also has agreed to meet next week with the entire Staff Committee, Fred Eckhard added.

Asked about the Secretary-General's response to a "chorus" of voices in the media asking for his resignation, the spokesman said, "A few voices doesn't constitute a chorus." He noted that Mr. Annan has heard no such call from any Member State.

Mr. Eckhard characterized recent criticisms as part of a "healthy debate" but asserted that the Secretary-General is committed to going about his work for the remaining two years and one month of his term.

"The Secretary-General is involved in this work on AIDS," he said. "Tomorrow he passes to the General Assembly this very important High-level Panel report, which will determine the reform agenda for the United Nations for the next two years, which he intends to pursue vigorously.

"His substantive agenda is strong. He is committed to it," the spokesman stressed.

Asked about criticisms from United States Senator Norm Coleman that Mr. Annan was not helping the investigation into the Oil-for-Food programme, the spokesman said that the Secretary-General has turned over all documents, and made available all staff, to the Independent Inquiry Committee headed by Paul Volcker.