- The Washington Times - Friday, September 21, 2001

The United Nations yesterday sought a bigger role in the battle against terrorism, calling a special General Assembly meeting for Oct. 1.
The announcement in New York followed a statement Wednesday by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan that the world body would push to complete a global anti-terror treaty in response to last week's attacks in New York and Washington.
"The General Assembly is in the process of discussing a convention against terrorism," Mr. Annan said. "We already have 12 conventions. I think that this year, given what we lived through last week, we can go forward and conclude the 13th convention.
"That will impose certain obligations on member states and encourage them to act together and cooperate," he added.
Apart from resolutions passed by the General Assembly and the Security Council condemning the Sept. 11 attacks, the United Nations has been on the sidelines of the U.S.-led response.
Moreover, U.S. officials have voiced skepticism at calls by nations such as China, Iran and Pakistan that any military action first be approved by the Security Council.
The General Assembly special meeting was called following a decision this week to postpone the assembly's annual gathering of world leaders.
The Bush administration said the United States most likely will participate in the upcoming session.
"I suspect we will be" part of the session, a State Department official said. "We've been leading a global coalition but I can't even comment on something that's a theory."
Despite its skepticism over Security Council involvement in military plans, Washington has said the United Nations has an important role to play in the fight against terrorism.
In the past as during the 1999 Kosovo crisis the United States avoided seeking approval for using force from the Security Council, where China and Russia have veto power as permanent members.
It did, however, win Security Council backing for the 1991 Persian Gulf war to oust Iraq from Kuwait.
Following last week's attacks, some countries have demanded evidence of suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden's involvement before endorsing military action.
Russia and France said yesterday they would like the Security Council to take an active role in coordinating the global effort, according to a joint statement released by the Kremlin after a telephone conversation between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Jacques Chirac.
The leaders "stressed the need to involve all international mechanisms, and first of all the United Nations and the Security Council," the statement said.
The State Department official said the world organization is already a major player in the anti-terrorist effort.
"We'd like to use it and already have, as a place where countries come together to deal with issues that threaten peace and stability in the world.
"If we decide to get another resolution for whatever reasons, or if someone puts one forward, that's always a possibility. But the ones so far couldn't be stronger in their support and solidarity, and I don't know why they can't be taken at their value," the official said.
On Tuesday, the Security Council called on Afghanistan's ruling Taliban to hand over bin Laden "immediately and unconditionally."
The Council froze Taliban assets and imposed an international flight ban on Afghanistan's Ariana airlines in November 1999 to pressure the hard-line regime to turn over bin Laden. It added an arms embargo on the Taliban in January.
The assembly this week also postponed a summit on children, which would have brought 75 presidents and prime ministers to New York.
Yesterday, the United Nations canceled another international conference on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) because of the attacks on the United States.
President Bush has said he opposes the CTBT, which the United States helped initiate and signed under President Clinton in 1996. Congress refused to ratify it in 1999, and Mr. Bush has made clear he has no intention to resubmit it.
A U.N. spokesman said most countries involved in the CTBT conference wanted a delay after the general debate was postponed. The conference was to have taken place Tuesday to Thursday next week, alongside the General Assembly session.
"The new dates of the conference should coincide with the rescheduling of the first week of the general debate of the 56th session of the General Assembly," spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

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