U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has warned the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq that using military force could play into the hands of resistance forces.
A day after his special envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, issued a similar warning, Secretary-General Annan said reliance on military means against Iraqis is counterproductive.
"Violent military action by an occupying power against the inhabitants of an occupied country will only make matters worse," Mr. Annan said. "It is definitely time now for those who prefer restraint and dialogue to make their voices heard."
Addressing a news conference, Mr. Annan said there is a broad consensus that the coalition's strategy of crushing Iraqi resistance is wrong.
"The more these attacks, the more the occupation is seen as taking steps that harm the civilian population, the greater the ranks of the resistance grows, and everybody thinks the struggle really should have been to win the hearts and the minds of the people," he said.
In a message clearly directed at the U.S. and British-led coalition, Mr. Annan said there is nothing cowardly or faint-hearted in using restraint and dialogue.
He pointed out that it takes courage and dogged determination to work for peace in a violent world. He reminded reporters of last year's deadly attack on U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, saying "those who venture into violent situations in the cause of peace run just as high a risk as soldiers do.