Iraqi official faults UN, but also urges it to return to Baghdad
UNITED NATIONS -- Iraq's foreign minister accused the United Nations yesterday of failing to rescue his country from Saddam Hussein's 35-year "murderous tyranny." He urged the world body not to fail Iraq again and to return to help build a democratic nation.
But Secretary General Kofi Annan said he needed "much greater clarity" on what the Iraqis and the US-led coalition expect of the United Nations. That would help, Annan said, to gauge whether the job was worth the risk to UN staff.
Annan pulled all UN international staff out of Iraq in October after two bombings at UN headquarters in Baghdad and a series of attacks on aid organizations. The first bombing on Aug. 19 killed 22 people, including top UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.
Annan presented the council with a report -- issued last week -- in which he said Iraq remained too dangerous to reopen the Baghdad UN office. Instead, he said, the world body would open an Iraq office in Nicosia, Cyprus, and an annex in Amman, Jordan, with staff traveling to Iraq as needed.
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said the Iraqi Governing Council understood "the devastating losses that the UN suffered" but said it needed to return, noting the UN has continued operations in many other "dangerous and difficult situations."
"The United Nations is the key forum for collective international action to help us achieve our goals of restructuring and democratizing our country," he said. "Your help and expertise cannot be effectively delivered from Cyprus or Amman
. . . We are ready and willing to help provide whatever security is required."
While paying tribute to the UN and its relief efforts that helped millions of Iraqis during recent years, Zebari accused the world body of failing to take action to oust Hussein.
"One year ago, the Security Council was divided between those who wanted to appease Saddam Hussein and those who wanted to hold him accountable," he said. "The United Nations as an organization failed to help rescue the Iraqi people from a murderous tyranny that lasted over 35 years.
"The UN must not fail the Iraqi people again," Zebari said. "So we ask you today, please put aside your differences, pull together, and work with us."
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