U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell will meet his counterparts from the other four permanent U.N. Security Council member states in Geneva this coming Saturday to discuss Iraq. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called the meeting in a bid to overcome differences on the U.S.-proposed Security Council resolution to expand the United Nations role in Iraqi peacekeeping.
The veto-wielding Security Council members are divided over the U.S. initiative, with France understood to be insisting that the United Nations assume the lead role in Iraqi reconstruction and building a new government. But in a talk with reporters here after meeting with Spain's Foreign Minister Ana Palacio, Mr. Powell said while the U.N. has an important role to play, it would be unable to replace the U.S.-led coalition.
"The U.N. should play a role," he said. "But should it play the only role, to the exclusion of what the Coalition Provisional Authority has been doing and needs to continue doing in the future? No, that I couldn't agree to because I don't think it's in a position to do so."
Mr. Powell agreed to attend the Geneva meeting after a late-afternoon telephone talk with Mr. Annan. The meeting of the so-called "Permanent Five" is also expected to discuss Middle East peace prospects in the wake of the resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and recent violence.