The president of the United Nations Security Council says now is the time for the Council to begin discussing a possible U.N. role in so-called "nation-building" for Afghanistan.

Richard Ryan of Ireland told reporters that he welcomes a statement from U.S. President George W. Bush that the United Nations should take over a future "nation-building" project in Afghanistan.

"Nation building is going to have to take place and there is no reason why we should not begin to get into that as soon as possible even while we are in the middle of crisis at the moment," Mr. Ryan said. "Council members will very much want to take this issue on board."

Mr. Ryan said the Council will meet next Tuesday with Lakhdar Brahimi. Mr. Brahimi, Algeria's former foreign minister, is the coordinator of all U.N. activities involving Afghanistan. His immediate focus has been on delivering relief supplies but he is also charged with developing contingency plans to assist in establishing a new government for Afghanistan.

Earlier, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said no one can impose a government on the Afghan people. He said the United Nations might be able to help through a transitional period if the Afghan people agree to work together to form a broad-based government.