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Annan: Broader U.N. role possible


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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- In a veiled reference to the role of the U.S. occupation in Iraq, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said a resolution for a broader multi-national role under a U.N. mandate is possible, but only if decision-making is shared among the countries that commit their resources.

"If that doesn't happen," Annan told reporters, "I think it's going to be very difficult" to get a resolution that will "satisfy everybody."

Other countries on the Security Council have been calling for the United States and Britain to make power-sharing concessions. But U.S. administration sources told CNN that the White House, which favors a widening of responsibility in Iraq for other countries, intends to maintain its primary military or political control of the post-war transition.

"We will maintain the chain of command. The United States is spending 95 percent of the money to maintain Iraq until the economy is up and running. We have accountability issues," an administration official told CNN.

The diplomatic moves for a new resolution came in the wake of the deadly bombing Tuesday of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad that killed at least 22 people, including Sergio Vieira de Mello, the top U.N. envoy in Iraq.

Annan, who along with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw talked to reporters after a meeting, reiterated that he does not favor placing U.N. peacekeepers in Iraq.

The secretary-general said "it is not excluded that the (Security) Council may decide to transform the operation into a U.N.-mandated multinational force operating on the ground with other governments coming in."

But such an idea would "imply not just burden-sharing, but also sharing decisions and responsibility with the others," Annan said.

Because of concerns over power-sharing, there is not much optimism within the Bush administration that this resolution will be approved anytime soon.

Both Annan and Straw discussed the possibility for "deeper U.N. role" and tighter security at the United Nations.

"Security is of great concern to us," Annan said.

He said a U.N. team is going to Baghdad to "assess our security situation."

Straw said negotiations among nations over how to fashion a resolution that is satisfactory are based on "a recognition that positions which threaten the international peace and security are matters of interest and common threats to the international community.

"It's a matter of history, sad history, that the international community was divided on the appropriateness of military intervention in Iraq," last spring, he said.

"But the international community has a common interest in the future stability and prosperity of Iraq. So do the people of Iraq, and we also have a common interest in fighting terrorism."

Discussions about a new resolution took place Thursday at the Security Council, and Straw called the talks "constructive."

Annan met with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell Thursday, and Straw and Powell were to meet later Friday.


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