As the United States tries to gain international support for a Security Council resolution lifting sanctions in Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell is stressing the importance of European allies and the vital role of the United Nations.
Mr. Powell says recent disagreements over the war in Iraq are now "behind us." He says it is time to come together and lift the burden on the Iraqi people by removing international sanctions. Officials say the United States will suspend some of its own sanctions against Iraq immediately, now that Saddam Hussein's regime has been removed.
The secretary of state made his remarks just hours after announcing that the United States expects to circulate a Security Council resolution this week on the issue.
Although the United States, Britain and Spain held fierce debates with several key members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the European Union and the Security Council over the war, Mr. Powell emphasized the importance of the international alliances for urgent challenges, including rebuilding Iraq. "The United States has every expectation that the United Nations will play a vital role," he says. "We, as democracies, all as nations represented in the [Security] Council, NATO and the EU [European Union] have a special role to defend liberty and open opportunity in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in other areas around the world that are a challenge to the international community.
Mr. Powell comments came in an address at an annual dinner of the non-profit Foreign Policy Association in New York. Mr. Powell and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana were jointly honored at the event.
Mr. Powell says, despite predictions of its demise, NATO is expanding, as is the European Union. He says NATO could be given a peace keeping role in Iraq. "All members of the alliance are now talking about a possible peace keeping role in Iraq," he says. "And so, when I look at the NATO alliance and I look at our relationship with the European Union, I see two very vibrant institutions, made up of dynamic democracies, tackling some of the most challenging issues of the day."
Mr. Powell says that -- as the world faces the challenges of terrorism, proliferation and new infectious diseases -- international alliances are more important that ever. He says no country can tackle the realities of a post-September 11 world alone.