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Annan: UN Ready to Build Coalition Government in Afghanistan - 2001-10-12

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says the United Nations would be willing to assist in developing a new government in Afghanistan but that no one can impose a political solution there.

On the day that he and the United Nations were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Mr. Annan met with reporters in a session dominated by questions about terrorism and the future of Afghanistan. The Secretary-General said the world organization stands ready to help build a coalition government in Afghanistan.

"One can not impose a government on the Afghan people. This is why we have been working with them and will continue to work with them," he said. "The process may be accelerated given what is happening. The people themselves may decide the time has come for a change and I think we should be prepared to work with them and to help them through the difficult humanitarian phase, then through a transitional period if they come together and work to form a broad-based government," he said.

Mr. Annan said Afghanistan will need a lot of international assistance in rehabilitation and reconstruction.

At his news conference on Thursday, U.S. President George W. Bush said the United Nations may be able to "provide the framework" for "so-called nation-building" in Afghanistan.

On terrorism, U.N. leader Annan said all U.N. members recognize it is a threat and realize they must come together to fight it.

On the Middle East, the Secretary General said he is working, often behind the scenes, to bring about peace between Israel and the Palestinians. He said the time is here for the international community to make a collective effort to "break the impasse." Without giving a time frame, Mr. Annan said he is "reasonably confident that we will see some activities on that front" soon.