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Mexico Seeks End to Iraq War Through UN - 2003-03-31


On April 1, Mexico assumes the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council for the month of April. As a non-permanent member of the Security Council, Mexico played a significant role in recent months in the debate over resolutions aimed at forcing Saddam Hussein to disarm. The country's U.N. ambassador may now try to seek a role for the world body in bringing about peace.

When Mexico takes over the presidency of the Security Council on Tuesday, its ambassador, Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, says he will seek an end to the war in Iraq. He says Mexico would have preferred no attack on Iraq, so that the U.N. inspectors could have continued their work there, in an effort to resolve the issue peacefully.

Now that there is a war, Ambassador Aguilar Zinser says, Mexico will lead an effort to find a role for the council in restoring peace. However, he says he does not believe there will be any resolution brought before the council to condemn the United States for the war. He says there is a division of opinions on the council as to the war, and that such a resolution would not be viable.

The Mexican representative at the United Nations says the world body will have an important humanitarian role to play in Iraq, once hostilities have ceased. He says Mexico will seek consensus in order to develop an effective plan.

There have been reports in the Mexican press that the United States had campaigned to have Mr. Aguilar Zinser replaced. He says, however, that he has the full support of President Vicente Fox and Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez, who is also expected to preside at some of the Security Council sessions in April.

Although the spotlight on the U.N. Security Council has dimmed somewhat, now that the war is under way, the role of Mexico in that forum has become a matter of intense debate. Public opinion polls here show around 80 percent of Mexicans are against the war, and many leading political and intellectual figures, from right to left on the political spectrum, have voiced their opposition to the war.

One prominent anti-war intellectual who has generally been supportive of good relations with the United States is historian and magazine editor Enrique Krause. In a television interview in the northern city of Monterrey, Mr. Krause warned that Mexico should avoid confrontations with the United States during its time at the head of the security council.

He says that, if U.S. television transmits images of Mexican representatives making imprudent statements that could be considered anti-American, then there could be a backlash against Mexico. He cites the reaction against France over its stand in the security council as an example, and says that, instead of something like the boycotts of wine and cheese directed at the French, there could be animosity shown towards millions of Mexican immigrants living in the United States.

For his part, Ambassador Aguilar Zinser stresses the role of Mexico at the United Nations in April as "institutional." He says Mexico will propose meetings on such matters as strengthening the multilateral approach to resolving conflict and discussing the role of non-governmental organizations in conflict situations.