Senior Bush administration officials and a top U.N. envoy discussed what role the United Nations may have in Iraq, as the country prepares for the planned transfer of power from the U.S.-led coalition in June.

Secretary of State Colin Powell and President Bush's national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, held talks Thursday at the White House with Lakhdar Brahimi. The United States wants the former Algerian diplomat to help Iraq with its political transition.

Mr. Brahimi was recently named U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special advisor on peace and security. The 70-year-old veteran diplomat was the U.N. envoy to Afghanistan for the past two years, as that country developed a government and constitution after the fall of the Taleban government.

Iraq's Coalition Provisional Authority plans to hand over power June 30 to an interim government chosen by delegates at regional caucuses across the country. Key Shi'ite leaders in Iraq are demanding direct elections instead.

The United States and the U.S. appointed Iraqi Governing Council say it is not possible to hold elections so soon because of security and voter registration problems.

Earlier this week, the United States and the Iraqi Council sought U.N. help in resolving the issue, and Mr. Annan said he would consider a request to send a team of experts to Iraq to help determine if early elections are possible.