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European Union Summit Draws UN Secretary General Kofi Annan - 2003-04-09


U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has decided take part in a European Union summit in Athens next week to discuss the role of the United Nations in a post-war Iraq.

Mr. Annan had planned to meet separately with the leaders of France, Germany, UK and Russia, but was invited by Greece - current holders of the E.U. presidency - to discuss the issue with all the leaders instead. This has been an active week for Mr. Annan and others planning for the post-war recovery in Iraq. Here’s VOA-TV’s George Dwyer with more.

Following a meeting with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan in New York on Tuesday, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana joined other European leaders in calling for a major U.N. role in running post-war Iraq.

JAVIER SOLANA, CHIEF EUROPEAN UNION FOREIGN AFFAIRS
“We are not asking for a big role as Europeans, we are trying to defend the role of the United Nations. We are a member of the United Nations. But it should be the United Nations who plays a very important role, a vital role in the post-conflict. This is a natural thing and is something that has been accepted by everybody. It is not a demand by the Europeans as such, it is a demand by the international community.”

Mr. Annan says the Security Council should decide what role the U.N. would have, apart from its usual humanitarian efforts. Earlier, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the United Nations must play a "vital role" in post-Saddam Iraq.

President Jacques Chirac on Tuesday warned the humanitarian situation in Iraq was "bad or very bad" and urged the United States and Britain to quickly lay the groundwork for the safe delivery of emergency aid.

Following a meeting with U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers, Chiraq repeated his assertion that the United Nations must play a central role in Iraq's reconstruction.

Chirac has been a leading opponent of the war, urging the United Nations and Britain to make sure the war is short and causes as few casualties as possible. He also pledged that France would set aside 1 million Euros, about 1 million dollars, to help the U.N. agency deal with the problem of Iraqi refugees.

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