- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 20, 2003

NEW YORK — U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said yesterday that the Bush administration would consider a new U.N. resolution to address security concerns in Iraq.

Mr. Negroponte told reporters at the United Nations last night:

“I think there is a lot of reflection and assessment going on as to what else might be done to deal with the many challenges in Iraq, and one of the possibilities that is being seriously thought about is the possibility of another U.N. Security Council resolution.”

Mr. Negroponte’s remarks followed Tuesday’s truck bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, in which at least 21 persons were killed, including the senior U.N. official in Iraq. Two Americans died in the blast, Martha Teas of the U.N. office of humanitarian affairs, and Rich Hooper, a Middle East specialist with the U.N. department of political affairs.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw arrives in New York today to argue for sending a U.N.-authorized security contingent to Iraq.

The United States had been cool to similar proposals in the past, fearing they would dilute the U.S.-led coalition’s authority in that country.

Britain is Washington’s closest ally on the U.N. Security Council and its primary partner in the coalition.

London has long advocated expanding the U.N. role in Iraq, a view that many like-minded governments said was reinforced by Tuesday’s attack on the United Nations’ Baghdad offices.

“We have all, whatever our positions were before this, got to come together,” Mr. Straw told reporters in London. “One of the things I will be discussing in New York [today] is whether we have a strengthened U.N. mandate.”

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan pledged that the organization would not be intimidated by Tuesday’s blast, saying those who “undertook this violent act are not acting on behalf of the Iraqi people nor are they speaking for them. We will continue our work.”

Mr. Annan, who cut short a Scandinavian vacation after the bombing, lashed out at U.S. forces for failing to protect the U.N. compound. He acknowledged that the organization might have turned down offers of increased protection but said it was the coalition’s responsibility regardless.

“That kind of decision should not be left to the protected — it is those who have the responsibility for law and order, who have intelligence, which determines which action is taken,” he said.

“I don’t know if the U.N. did turn down protection, but if they did it was not correct and they should not have turned it down.”

A Pentagon official told The Washington Times on Tuesday that “it was the U.N.’s decision not to have forces there providing protection for that building.”

Mr. Annan returned yesterday to a tense and mournful New York headquarters, where concrete planters were installed hastily between the driveway and the buildings. Mr. Annan entered through the underground garage, rather than taking the front door.

The request for a multinational security force in Iraq could put governments in a diplomatic bind, obligating them to assist the United Nations even as their troops would be seen as supporting the U.S.-led occupation.

Syria’s deputy ambassador, Fayssal Mekdad, said no Arab nation would send troops to assist an occupied country. But, he said, “When the U.N. calls on the international community for help to defend it, I assure you Syria will be in the forefront.”

Many nations have advocated a stronger role for the United Nations in administering Iraq, with several U.S. allies saying they can contribute troops to policing the country only if they are serving under a U.N. mandate.

France and others said yesterday that the attack on the U.N. building in Baghdad had strengthened their conviction that the world body must play a more central role in administering Iraq.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund announced yesterday that a combined 20 employees were being withdrawn from Iraq. Their departure could delay the start of several projects vital to the reconstruction effort.

Other U.N. agencies gave their employees the rest of the week off as they scrambled to find secure office space, and considered whether to send nonessential personnel to Jordan or another nearby country.

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