NEW YORK (Talon News) — Secretary of State Colin Powell met with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan on Thursday to discuss the current security situation in Iraq and the possibility of a new U.N. resolution for an increased international peacekeeping operation in the war-torn country.
The meeting comes in the wake of Tuesday’s bombing of the U.N. compound in Baghdad. More than 20 people were killed in the blast, including U.N. special envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello. More than 100 others were wounded in the attack on the undefended Canal Hotel where about 300 people worked.
In remarks outside of U.N. headquarters in New York, Annan said that he and Secretary Powell had a “very good discussion” in which the two reviewed “what needs to be done to strengthen our security and to continue our operations.”
Powell expressed to Annan the condolences of President Bush “on the loss of a great man, Sergio de Mello, and a number of other individuals who were working the cause of peace, who were there to help the Iraqi people.”
“[T]here are terrorists and criminals and others who are determined to stop us from helping the Iraqi people, and in my conversation with the Secretary General this morning we reaffirmed that they will not succeed,” Powell said.
“The United Nations remains committed, the coalition remains committed, and the United States certainly remains committed to stay in Iraq and to make sure that the promise that has been brought to Iraq by the elimination of the Hussein regime will be achieved, will be made available to every Iraqi citizen,” Secretary Powell added.
Powell said that he was “very pleased” that the U.N. would be maintaining a presence in Baghdad and added that the U.S. will be working with U.N. representatives in Baghdad on security matters.
“We want the humanitarian workers and other workers in Iraq, the reconstruction workers and others, to have a safe environment,” Powell said. “It’s a challenging environment, but we will work closely with the United Nations to make sure that they can perform their work in as safe an environment as is possible, considering the circumstances.”
In fielding a question from a reporter, Powell was asked whether the U.S. would “encourage other member-states to contribute troops to the security situation in Iraq.” The U.S. has so far been reluctant to embrace an increased U.N. role in Iraq, choosing instead to maintain full control over the reconstruction efforts. However, Tuesday’s bombing, along with the ongoing attacks on coalition forces, has U.S. officials considering additional international assistance.
“The Secretary General and I spoke about whether other steps might be appropriate, and Ambassador Negroponte will be working with the Secretary General’s staff and my Security Council colleagues to see what language might be appropriate,” Powell said.
In describing possible language of a U.N. peacekeeping resolution, Powell said, “We’re looking at, of course, reaffirming our determination to succeed in Iraq. We’re looking forward to language that might call on member-states to do more.”
“The President has always felt that the U.N. has a vital role to play and he has said that repeatedly. It is playing a vital role; that’s what Sergio and his colleagues were doing. And so we are now just exploring language with our Security Council colleagues,” Powell added.
When asked whether the U.S. would assign authority over economic decision-making to the U.N. in order to encourage participation, Powell said that no such request has been made.
“Some 30 nations are now participating. It is an international coalition,” Powell said. “There are 22,000 troops there from these 30 nations. Five other nations are in the process of sending troops, and 14 other nations are in conversation with the coalition on troop contributions.”
“But perhaps additional language and a new resolution might encourage others,” Powell added.
Secretary Powell said that other issues with respect to the role that the U.N. would play, could be discussed in the course of negotiations on a resolution.
Secretary General Annan said that the issue of Iraq is of “great concern to everybody,” regardless of the divisions that existed before the war.
“There are many who were against the war who are now coming together to help stabilize Iraq, and I think the stability of Iraq should be in everyone’s interest,” Annan said. “And this is why I would want to see everyone come together to help to stabilize Iraq and the region.”
When asked whether this is a consensus on the Security Council for a new resolution, Annan said it was “possible.”
“I think it is possible to get a consent, but it will take work, it will take consultations and negotiations, but I will not exclude it,” Annan said. “[T]here were divisions last winter, there were divisions before the war, but we all realize that it is urgent to help bring peace to Iraq, bring peace to the region.”