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Bush Urges UN Members to Rebuild Iraq Together - 2003-09-23

President Bush says United Nations members must come together to help pay for rebuilding Iraq. It was the president's first appearance before the U.N. since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

President Bush did not back down from going to war without the U.N. But now that most of the fighting is finished, he said it is time the world body comes together behind what he calls the U.N.'s fundamental principles. "We are dedicated to the defense of our collective security, and to the advance of human rights. These permanent commitments call us to great work in the world, work we must do together. So let us move forward," he said.

Mr. Bush is at the U.N. trying to win support for a new resolution sharing the costs of rebuilding Iraq and establishing a multinational force under U.S. control. Some U.N. members also want a bigger role in the country's political transition and a firm timetable for a return to self-rule.

Mr. Bush said a U.S.-appointed governing council is making progress toward Iraqi democracy, but he says it is too soon for an electoral timetable. "The primary goal of our coalition in Iraq is self-government for the people of Iraq, reached by orderly and democratic means. This process must unfold according to the needs of Iraqis, neither hurried nor delayed by the wishes of other parties," he said.

Mr. Bush says elections can only be held once there is a new Iraqi constitution. That is a significantly-longer transition process than some U.N. members want.

French President Jacques Chirac led U.N. opposition to invading Iraq but says he will probably not veto a resolution that fails to include greater political involvement. Instead, he says Paris will likely abstain and let the measure pass.

That movement from the French increases the likelihood that Mr. Bush will get some sort of resolution from a world body where there is still some resentment over the American President acting against Iraq without U.N. approval.

Before the U.S.-led invasion, Mr. Bush told the U.N. its credibility was at stake if it did not authorize the use of force against Saddam Hussein. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan Tuesday gave voice to some of the lingering disquiet over Washington's unilateralism, saying it set a dangerous precedent.

"According to this argument, states are not obliged to wait until there is agreement in the Security Council. Instead, they reserve the right to act unilaterally or in ad hoc coalitions. This logic represents a fundamental challenge to the principles on which, however imperfectly, world peace and stability have rested for the last 58 years," he said.

Mr. Annan said the U.N. has come to a fork in the road that is no less decisive than the founding of the world body itself and now requires a collective assessment of the threats from terrorists and weapons of mass destruction that spark such pre-emptive attacks.

Secretary General Annan met with President Bush before their morning speeches to the General Assembly. After his remarks, Mr. Bush met with French President Chirac as part of a series of private meetings Tuesday with the leaders of Spain, Indonesia, Morocco, and Afghanistan.