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EU Calls for Major UN Role in Post-War Iraq

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana joins other European leaders in calling for a major U.N. role in running post-war Iraq.

Mr. Solana says despite disagreements about the war in Iraq, the United Nations as an institution is "very much alive." And he says the entire international community is demanding a wide U.N. role in rebuilding Iraq. "We are not asking for a big role as Europeans; we are trying to defend the role of the United Nations," he says. "We are members of the United Nations and it should be the United Nations that plays a very important role, a vital role in post-conflict [Iraq].

Mr. Solana, who met with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, made his remarks just hours after President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed support for a "vital" U.N. role in a post-war Iraq.

Earlier, French President, Jacques Chirac had repeated his view that the United Nations should have the central responsibility for rebuilding Iraq in a post-Saddam Hussein era. Mr. Chirac is expected to meet with in St. Petersburg with his Russian and German counterparts, all vocal opponents of the Iraq war.

Mr. Annan is also traveling to Europe for talks on the issue. Also on Tuesday, Fred Eckhard, a spokesman for Mr. Annan, said that "vital role" should not be limited to humanitarian relief. "We won't be disappointed if it's only humanitarian but we think it would be unwise, and we're waiting for our marching orders from the [Security] Council," said Mr. Eckhard.

Meanwhile, the Security Council also convened Tuesday to receive a progress report on resuming humanitarian relief to the Iraqi people through the United Nations' oil-for-food program.