Albright Sworn In - Jan. 23, 1997
The U.N. Adrift - Sept. 24, 1996
Clinton Calls For Cooperation In U.N. Talk - Sept. 24, 1996
Clinton: U.S. Wants To Pay $1 Billion U.N. Debt
But He Urges New Secretary-General To Reform U.N.
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Jan. 23) -- The United States is prepared to "pay its debt and pay its dues" to the United Nations provided real reforms are made at the world organization, President Bill Clinton said today following his first official meeting with new U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
"We cannot expect to lead through the United Nations unless we are prepared to pay our own way and to pay what we owe as they do what they should along the path of reform," Clinton said. "As long as the United Nations does its part, we simply have to be prepared to pay our debts and to pay our dues."
Annan is in Washington, D.C., on a mission to persuade the U.S. to pay the $1 billion it owes to the U.N. in past dues, and to convince the president and critics in Congress that he is comitted to making changes at the U.N.
"Simply put, what the United Nations wants is what the U.S. also wants: a reformed United Nations that is effective, efficient, leaner and relevant to the tasks that member states want to set for us," Annan told reporters. "The world has changed and we have to change, we have to adapt and I have given my commitment to the president that I will pursue reforms."
Annan took office Jan. 1 after the U.S. vetoed the re-election of former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali on grounds he was not sufficiently reform minded.
Clinton warmly described Annan as "an experienced diplomat, a proven reformer, a man committed to a revitalized United Nations, one that upholds its timeless mission but that adapts to new times."
While the Clinton Administration has pledged its support, Capitol Hill remains an obstacle. Starting next week, Clinton said, he would work with the Republican-controlled Congress to reach an agreement "through which America can pay our arrears to the U.N., meet our obligations and continue to spur real progress."
The largest reform the U.S. officials are insisting on is a sharp reduction in the number of bureaucrats from each country at the U.N.'s New York City headquarters.
Annan will meet later with an ardent U.N. foe, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms, as well as House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senate majority leader Trent Lott. He met last night with Vice President Al Gore.
Also present at the White House meeting was newly-sworn-in Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who was instrumental in bringing Annan to his present post. Albright's efforts to block Boutros Ghali's re-appointment was considered one of her most notable successes while serving as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N.
The president today also called for increased funding for American diplomatic efforts, arguing that the State Department should be budgeted separately from the defense budget. "Today we are proud as Americans to stand as the indespensible nation, the world's leading force for peace and freedom, security and prosperity," Clinton said.
"But we cannot sustain our leadership or, more importantly, our goals for a better world alone, and we cannot sustain it by words alone," he continued. "Our well being at home depends upon our engagement around the world. We have to have the resources to meet that challenge and to assume the responsibilities of leadership."
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