Iraq Report: January 23, 2004

CPA, IRAQI GOVERNING COUNCIL MEMBERS MEET WITH UN SECRETARY-GENERAL.
Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) officials L. Paul Bremer and Sir Jeremy Greenstock and a delegation of Iraqi Governing Council members met at UN headquarters in New York on 19 January with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to discuss the UN’s future role in Iraq, RFE/RL reported.

“Both the [Iraqi] Governing Council and the CPA representatives have expressed a strong wish that the UN should quickly send a technical mission to Iraq to advise on the feasibility of elections within the next few months and, if not, what alternatives might be possible,” Annan told reporters after the meeting, according to his comments posted on the UN website (http://www.un.org). He added that he would consider the request. “I believe that there is widespread agreement among us that the UN will have an important role to play in working with the Iraqi provisional government from July onwards on key constitutional and electoral issues. We agreed that partnership would be necessary and we are also going to be active in recovery, reconstruction and in the humanitarian and human rights fields.”

Annan also told reporters that security would still be a major consideration for the UN in Iraq. “Obviously, the scope for operational UN activities inside Iraq will continue to be constrained by the security situation for some time to come,” he said. He called the 18 January bombing of CPA headquarters in Baghdad “not reassuring.” Bremer meanwhile told reporters that should Annan send a team to assess the possibility of holding direct elections before June, the Iraqi Governing Council will work closely with the UN team, providing them with security and technical assistance. Iraqi Governing Council members also addressed a closed-door session of the UN Security Council on 19 January.

Asked about a timetable for a possible UN return to Iraq, Annan told reporters, “If I were to send in a team following the discussions that we are going to have, depending on the nature of the work or assignments we decide to take on, it may require some UN presence before 30 June.” “And even if we are going to become operationally much more active after the establishment of the provisional government, we need to start planning now…. It would be a gradual build-up; I don’t see a massive return of the UN until the security situation improves a bit.” (Kathleen Ridolfo)

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