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Annan Pushes for Unity on Postwar Iraq

Annan Pushes for Unity on Postwar Iraq

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged leaders of the 191 U.N. member states on Monday to come up with radically new ideas to deal with wars, terrorism, poverty and other threats to international security.

In a new report, he urged supporters and opponents of the U.S.-led war to unite behind a new global agenda and agree on the major threats to global peace and security and how to tackle them.

He called for an expansion of the Security Council to make it more reflective of global realities.

"Events have shaken the international system," Annan told a news conference launching the report, pointing to the divisive war on Iraq and the most devastating attack on the United Nations in its 58-year history, the Aug. 19 bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad that killed 22 people.

"We all agree that there are new threats, or rather that old challenges have resurfaced in new and more virulent forms. But we don't seem to agree what exactly they are, or how to respond, or even whether the response should be a collective one," he said.

Annan said he sent letters urging all world leaders to attend the annual ministerial meeting of the General Assembly starting Sept. 23.

All states need to take a hard look at whether the United Nations and other international institutions need "radical reform" to cope with challenges ranging from combating terrorism and weapons proliferation to eradicating poverty and safeguarding human rights.

"They must set a higher priority on finding common ground and agreeing common strategies, rather than striking out on their own," he said.

Annan said the Aug. 19 attack on U.N. headquarters was "a direct challenge to the vision of global solidarity and collective security," rooted in the U.N. Charter and articulated in the declaration adopted by more than 150 world leaders at the Millennium Summit in September 2000.

Even before the attack, Annan said, the consensus on world peace and security and the vision for the 21st century outlined in the millennium declaration "looks less solid than it did three years ago."

The 15-nation Security Council and other U.N. members were deeply divided over Washington's decision to launch a war in Iraq without U.N. approval and those differences have spilled over into other debates.

"The war in Iraq brought to the fore a host of questions of principle and practice that challenge the United Nations and the international community as a whole," Annan said.

Annan noted a worrying lack of consensus on the priorities for global security.

"New and potentially more virulent forms of terrorism, the proliferation of non-conventional weapons, the spread of trans-national criminal networks, and ways in which all these things may be coming together to reinforce one another, are viewed in some parts of the world as the dominant threats to peace and security in our time," Annan said.

"At the same time, for many around the globe, poverty, deprivation and civil war remain the highest priority," he said.

Annan said his point was that the international community must not only focus on the "hard threats," but tackle the "soft threats" of poverty, AIDS and other deprivations as well "and do something about them."

Just in the last year, Annan said, progress in ending wars in Angola and Sudan was overshadowed by continued conflict in Congo, armed violence in Ivory Coast and bloody fighting in Liberia.

Annan said the specific goals for 2015 in the Millennium Declaration -- including halving the number of people living in extreme poverty, providing universal primary education and starting to reverse the HIV/AIDS epidemic -- could still be achieved but required urgent action by political leaders.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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