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Annan Urges UN Members to Patch Up Difference Over Iraq - 2003-09-08


U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has urged member nations to patch up their differences over Iraq and work together to address urgent issues. The Secretary General met reporters to talk about progress on his Millennium Declaration of three years ago. But he said in light of last month's attack on the U.N. compound in Baghdad, he is not sure the Millennium goals are intact.

He said the attack had shaken the international system and left him with the uneasy feeling that the system was no longer working. "Member states are sharply divided over some of the most fundamental issues that this organization was set to deal with. We all agree there are new threats, or rather that old challenges have resurfaced in new and more virulent forms. What we do not seem to agree upon is what exactly they are or how to respond or even whether the response should be a collective one. We seem no longer to agree on what the threats are or how to deal with them," he said.

Mr. Annan called for radical reforms, and chided Security Council members and others for their failure to build a consensus on Iraq. "All states need to take account of global realities and of each other's views and interests. They must set higher priority on finding higher ground and agree on common strategies rather than striking out on their own. And if they do not want others to strike out on their own, they need to show how multilateral systems really can deal with the problems that are of concern and worry to others," he said.

The Secretary General said reforms of the U.N. system are urgently needed, including an expansion of the Security Council. He said he has written to the 191 member nations asking them to come up with new ideas this month for battling terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction, as well as for fighting poverty and promoting development.

Mr. Annan also said he hopes to hold talks with the five permanent Security Council countries on Saturday in Geneva on the U.S. draft resolution on Iraq. Washington's proposal calls on the Security Council to authorize a multinational force under U.S. command to help stabilize Iraq.