- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 6, 2009

UNITED NATIONS | The Obama administration said Wednesday it plans to pay off the remaining debts to U.N. peacekeeping operations accumulated since 2005.

“While the United States will be appealing to all member states to do more for U.N. peacekeeping, were also asking more of ourselves,” said Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

“That includes, importantly, meeting our financial obligations,” Ms. Rice told a meeting of the Security Council in a rare session that included the commanders of 15 U.N. peacekeeping missions throughout the world.

Her remarks reflected a desire to end years of disputes between Washington and the world body over sought-after reforms in peacekeeping and other areas of U.N. administration.

The U.S. says it owes the U.N. peacekeeping department about $159 million in dues accumulated since 2005. The Better World Fund, a private organization that promotes improved U.S.-U.N. relations, puts the total at about $174 million.

Either amount is a fraction of the $8 billion the United Nations expects to spend on peacekeeping this year, of which the U.S. is responsible for about $2.2 billion.

Nevertheless, it reflects a commitment by President Obama to work more closely with the United Nations than the two previous administrations, which often found themselves at loggerheads with the world body.

Washington is “ready to invest in U.N. peacekeeping,” Ms. Rice said Wednesday.

Accounts of U.S. obligations are always a bit of a muddle, according to senior U.N. officials, partly because the United States, United Nations and the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations operate on separate fiscal years and with slightly different accounting methods.

Just last week, U.S. lawmakers approved a $906 million payment to U.N. peacekeeping.

“This is a monumental act for Ambassador Rice and President Obama, to convince Congress to put in nearly a billion in extra money,” said Peter Yeo, director of the Better World Fund.

“In my view, at least, it was a reminder that we have an ambassador and president who believe we have to pay our bills if we are going to be effective at the United Nations.”

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