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Annan Praises UN Envoy Role in Selection of Iraqi Leaders - 2004-06-01

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has defended the process of selecting an interim government in Iraq, saying his envoy had done exactly what he set out to do.

Speaking to reporters, the secretary-general praised the job done by his special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi in facilitating the selection interim Iraqi leaders.

"I think we all have to recognize that the process was not perfect, and it is a difficult environment," he said. "And I think, given the circumstances, I believe Mr. Brahimi did as best as he could."

Mr. Annan made no apology for his envoy's close cooperation with the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority, or with the Iraqi Governing Council, in identifying the country's leaders.

"So we have done exactly what we have set out to do," he said. "It was never intended that the U.N. would go and appoint and impose a government on the Iraqis. We had to discuss it with them, and given the circumstances and the factors on the ground, it is not surprising that you have a mix of people from the Governing Council and from outside who are forming the new government."

He noted that among the members of the interim government, there will be six women, as well as several fresh faces not included in the governing council.

Mr. Annan said he had spoken earlier in the day with President Bush about ways of bringing violence down.

He said he expects members of the interim administration to come to New York soon for consultations with the Security Council on a resolution outlining Iraq's transition to a democratically elected government.

The Council is considering a revised draft resolution that is said to strengthen guarantees of sovereignty that several members had criticized as too weak in an earlier draft.