- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 25, 2000

NEW YORK Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright used an appearance before the U.N. Security Council yesterday to distance herself and the Clinton administration from the stern denunciation delivered last week by Sen. Jesse Helms.

"Let me be clear. Only the president and the executive branch can speak for the United States. Today, on behalf of the president, let me say that the Clinton administration and I believe that most Americans see our role in the world and our relationship to this organization quite differently than does Senator Helms," Mrs. Albright said.

Her conciliatory comments so starkly contrasted with those of Mr. Helms that they drew intermittent chuckles from foreign ambassadors seated around the Security Council table.

On Thursday, the North Carolina Republican and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee savaged the United Nations for its "lack of gratitude" and warned the international body of a U.S. withdrawal if it continues "to impose its presumed authority on the American people."

"They see the U.N. aspiring to establish itself as the central authority of a new international order of global laws and global governance. This is an international order the American people will not countenance," Mr. Helms told the Security Council.

Mrs. Albright a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who returned yesterday to chair a meeting on peace prospects for Congo sought to placate the 15-member Security Council by saying the United States is part of the United Nations team.

"We strongly support the United Nations Charter and the organization's purpose. We respect its rules, which we helped to write. We want to strengthen it through continued reform and we recognize its many contributions to our own interest in a more secure, democratic and humane world."

The secretary of state also said the United Nations provides a vital forum for the consideration of matters affecting security and peace.

Mrs. Albright said the United States believes in "leading with other nations whenever possible," and that the United Nations was the forum to do so.

"We recognize its many contributions to our own interests in a more secure, democratic and humane world," she said.

In her disclaimer, Mrs. Albright also described Mr. Helms as "a man of conviction and a strong advocate of a distinct point of view about the United Nations and America's relationship to it. He and I have made a point of working together where we can, and making sure that when we disagree, we do so agreeably," she said.

A spokesman for Mr. Helms declined yesterday to comment on Mrs. Albright's remarks.

Sen. Rod Grams, chairman of the Foreign Relations subcommittee on international operations, yesterday said that "Jesse was speaking for Jesse but also as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee."

Asked about Mr. Helms' statements last week in New York that many Americans fear the United Nations might threaten U.S. soverignty, Mr. Grams said "some do."

"Articles have been written that conjure up these concerns," he told The Washington Times.

"The senator laid out 'Here's the issue and here's the concern.' If there's nothing to be concerned about, that's great."

Mr. Grams said that while Mr. Helms does not speak for the administration he was "someone who worked out the Helms-Biden bill to get an agreement with the U.N. to pay the arrears and influence the reforms that we think are important."

Mr. Clinton signed that bill.

While Mrs. Albright's views on foreign policy may differ with those of Mr. Helms, Mr. Grams said, "Mr. Helms does represent a majority opinion on the reforms package.

A day after Mr. Helms spoke at the United Nations, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee joined his criticism, saying fundamental structural changes are inevitable.

"I know it, you know it, we all know it," Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, told Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other top U.N. officials.

Mr. Biden said that while he does not share Mr. Helms' conservative politics, he agrees the United Nations must overhaul its practices.

"Fundamental changes have to take place. The good news is you're in charge."

Despite his words Friday, Mr. Biden said through a spokesman that he agreed with Mrs. Albright.

"Mr. Helms articulated his own views," said Chris Madison, spokesman Mr. Biden. "Only the U.S. president or a member of his administration can speak officially for the United States."

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