- The Washington Times - Friday, March 23, 2001

NEW YORK U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan formally announced his intention to seek a second term yesterday, saying he would be "deeply honored to accept" another five-year term if it is offered.
"There is a great deal still to be done to make the United Nations, this indispensable organization, into an effective instrument humanity needs in this new century to fulfill the hopes for peace, development and human rights," he told reporters.
The announcement, on the eve of a White House meeting with President Bush, had been widely expected from Mr. Annan, the most popular secretary-general in recent memory. Officials in Western and African capitals welcomed the news with relief.
"We think he has done an excellent job," said Secretary of State Colin Powell. "He's been a very, very effective secretary-general. And in due course we will announce our specific position with respect to supporting him or voting for him."
There may still be a challenge for the position from an Asian candidate. The Asian Group comprising 30 nations from Jordan to Japan argues the job should go to an Asian under the principle of geographic rotation. The last Asian to hold the top slot, U Thant of Burma, stepped down in 1971.
Although a half-dozen Asian figures have been mentioned, including U.N. ambassadors and sitting government officials, none has been formally proposed. With yesterday's announcement, another candidate seems increasingly unlikely.
"I think it's a perfectly reasonable tactic in straight political terms to try and claim the ground before anyone else muscles onto it," a European diplomat said yesterday. He doubted Asia could unify behind a single candidate.
The Asian nations are to meet Monday. The group is expected to offer informally not to field a candidate if they are assured of the position when Mr. Annan steps down.
Mr. Annan travels today to Washington, where he will meet with Mr. Bush, Mr. Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
Mr. Annan maintained careful and close ties with the Clinton administration, which tacitly backed him in 1992 as an alternative to former Egyptian Deputy Foreign Minister Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
Aside from an apparently constructive hourlong meeting between Mr. Annan and Mr. Powell last month, the Bush administration has had little to say about the organization or the secretary-general.
But over the past few years the Ghana-born diplomat has sometimes strained his relationship with American conservatives.
He flew to Baghdad in 1998 to try to ease an impasse over weapons inspections, and essentially allowed Iraq to declare "presidential sites" off-limits to international observers. Later that year, he announced new diplomatic efforts just as an American bombing campaign against Iraq was to begin.
And in 1999 he signed a secret agreement with Moammar Gadhafi that in effect protected the Libyan leader from prosecution over the 1989 destruction of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
The Security Council elected Mr. Annan on Dec. 17, 1996, after several heavily contested ballots.


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