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U.S. Backs 'Central Role' For UN In War Against Terrorism

U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said individual countries should also contribute to UN efforts.
(RFE/RL) -- The United States has told the UN Security Council that Washington is ready to strengthen the role of the UN in the global fight against terrorism.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations made the remarks during a debate in the Security Council about the way the war has been waged since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

The Security Council concluded the debate by unanimously approving a nonbinding statement that calls for the UN to be given a central role in the global effort.

"The United States strongly supports the central role of the United Nations in the global fight against terrorism and wants to strengthen the UN's ability and resolve to play a constructive and effective role," U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said during the December 9 debate

"The United Nations must continue to improve coordination among UN counterterrorism programs and identify concrete ways in which the different parts of the UN system can contribute to the global counterterrorism campaign, ensuring that all relevant UN bodies and organs are focused on making practical contributions to the global effort."

Khalilzad also stressed that better UN coordination on counterterrorism efforts should not discourage countries from implementing their own development programs.

"While the Security Council must play a key role, many others in the UN system can and should make contributions to the broader counterterrorism effort -- whether thru capacity building, education, economic development, or helping address conditions that terrorists and extremists exploit," he said.

Khalilzad's remarks followed criticism from Croatian President Stipe Mesic about the preemptive approach to the war taken by U.S. President George W. Bush's administration -- an approach that is part of the so-called "Bush Doctrine."

No 'Exclusive Competence'

Croatia holds the 15-member Security Council's rotating presidency this month. Mesic, a staunch opponent of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, said the global fight against terrorism had been "compromised" by the unilateral way that Washington has waged war.

Mesic also said solidarity with the United States diminished after Washington adopted "a kind of exclusive competence of one country, or of a group of countries which it led."

For his part, however, Bush has rejected that criticism. In a speech that coincided with the UN Security Council debate, Bush defended his preemptive approach to the fight against terrorism.

Speaking to cadets at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, Bush said the United States had resolved that it would not wait to be attacked as it had been on September 11, 2001. He said this is why the United States went on the offensive against terrorists overseas.

Bush made no comment in his West Point speech about the idea of a central role for the UN in the war against terrorism. Instead, he defended his decision to put the U.S. military in charge of the effort.

"We have given Special Operations Command the lead role in the global war against the terrorists," Bush said. "In addition to these upgrades in our counterterrorist capabilities, we have placed a new focus on counterinsurgency."

UN diplomats have so far stumbled over an acceptable definition of terrorism, particularly in the Middle East, where groups seen by some countries as terrorist organizations are viewed by others as freedom fighters.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described terrorism as a "global scourge." He said UN member states also need to defend the values enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was signed 60 years ago.

with agency reports