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Iraq: Annan Says No Return Of Foreign Staff To Iraq In Near Future

United Nations, 10 December 2003 (RFE/RL) -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says there will be no return of UN international staff to Iraq in the near future unless there is a dramatic improvement in the security situation. Annan says in a report released today that a UN assistance mission will be temporarily based in Cyprus, with foreign experts making occasional visits to Iraq. He says the operation will be led by veteran UN relief official Ross Mountain until a new permanent special representative is appointed.

The secretary-general urged the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority and Iraqi officials to provide specific guidelines as to how the UN could help in the country's political transition. The UN's Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast told reporters that Security Council resolutions have been too vague so far about the UN role in Iraq.

"To those who are asking the UN to come back into Iraq or to play a vital role, it's reasonable to ask them: what exactly do you mean? Involvement in what areas, exactly, and on what basis exactly?" Prendergast said.

Annan offered the UN's extensive experience in organizing elections, writing a constitution, setting up human rights bodies, and continuing humanitarian aid.