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US Appeals for International Troops to Help Defend UN Staff in Iraq - 2004-04-16

The United States has appealed to the international community for troop contributions to a military protection force for U.N. personnel in Iraq. The force would begin operations after the U.S.-led coalition is dissolved at the end of June.

Addressing the Security Council Friday, U.S. ambassador John Negroponte said he sees June 30 as the beginning of a new era for the people of Iraq. He said he is encouraged by international support for the U.N. plan to take on a leadership role in Iraq's transition to democracy.

"I believe that I do not overstate the broad desire within the international community for the United Nations to return to Iraq to play an expansive, robust and vital role, in particular after the June 30th transition," he said.

But the ambassador made clear that the United States intends to continue to play a lead role in providing security in Iraq, and called on other governments to show their support to the U.N. effort by contributing troops.

"In this regard, I urge that member states contribute to the future of Iraq by providing troops to carry out the function of security support for the essential United Nations role," he said.

Ambassador Negroponte said while the United Nations takes the lead in managing Iraq's political transition, he envisions a continuing battle to crush armed opposition groups intent on disrupting the process.

"There is no place for armed militias in Iraq. Our objective is to establish the rule of law in a democratic Iraq and to prevent any party from exercising influence through violent means. Progress has been made, but we will have no choice but to deal firmly with those who refuse to negotiate," he said.

After his address, Ambassador Negroponte said he expects the post-June 30 U.N. role in Iraq to be defined in a new Security Council resolution. That resolution is still in the formative stages, however.

Mr. Negroponte refused to comment on published reports that he is to become Washington's ambassador to Iraq after the June 30 handover of sovereignty. He said any announcement would have to come from the White House.