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Annan Urges US to Promote Consensus-Building Leadership Style - 2003-10-21

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan is urging the United States to emphasize consensus-building as it exercises leadership in world affairs. The secretary general's comments came in a speech at the University of Pittsburgh.

Mr. Annan says he senses widespread acceptance of U.S. leadership. But he says Washington's position as the world's lone superpower carries with it great responsibility.

In what was billed as a major policy address, the secretary general cautioned that diplomacy, not the exercise of unchallenged military power, is what moves the world.

Speaking to an audience made up mostly of students and faculty, Mr. Annan gently chided the United States for its unilateral action on Iraq. He said persuasive leadership means recognizing that most countries want multilateral institutions such as the United Nations to settle issues of peace and security.

The world body, he said, can give legitimacy to such endeavors.

The secretary general also cautioned Washington that just because others may accept U.S. power and dominance, it does not mean that those with different views on a specific issue may not on occasion be right.

Mr. Annan pointed to the latest Security Council resolution on Iraq as a case where the difference between success and failure may hang on the degree of global cooperation. He noted that it was by listening to others that the United States ultimately achieved unanimous Security Council agreement on an Iraq resolution.

During his visit to Pittsburgh, Mr. Annan also received the Heinz Humanitarian Award in recognition of U.N. efforts to identify and eradicate hunger and micro-nutrient deficiencies in developing countries. The award's sponsor, the H.J. Heinz Foundation, noted that as many as two billion people, a third of the world's population, suffer from iron deficiency or anemia.