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Rice: Bush To Urge Expanded U.N. Role in Iraq

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23, 2003 – In his address to the United Nations today, President George Bush will defend his decision to take down the regime of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, according to his national security advisor.

Bush will also exhort the U.N. General Assembly "to take action to make our world a safer and better place" by increasing its role in reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, Condoleezza Rice told reporters at a Sept. 22 White House press conference.

The president, she added, "will stress the international community's opportunity and responsibility to help the people of Iraq and Afghanistan rebuild their countries."

Rice said the president will also point out "the many ways the world will benefit from an Iraq and Afghanistan that are free, prosperous, modern and democratic."

In his speech, the U.S. president will also discuss the necessity of preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, which Rice termed "the greatest security challenge of our time," and addressing world problems like AIDS and famine.

However, Rice said the president would not backpedal from his decision to remove Saddam Hussein's regime by military force without a UN mandate.

"The president is going to talk about the tremendous(ly) right decision that was made in finally getting rid of this terrible government," Rice declared.

Hussein was a threat to his people and to the world who was "building weapons of mass destruction, having used weapons of mass destruction" on his own people, she continued.

The Iraqi people have been liberated from "the most brutal dictatorship imaginable," Rice said, adding that the time has come to assist Iraqis in achieving self-government.

However, Iraqi sovereignty must be achieved "in a way that it's going to work," she emphasized.

L. Paul Bremer, the senior U.S. official in Iraq, has proposed establishing an Iraqi constitution, "followed then by elections and them by the transfer of sovereignty," Rice said.

Bush "will not get into the details" of how the U.N. might play an expanded role in Iraq's reconstruction, she said.

However, Bush will observe that the U.N. "is already playing an important role in Iraq in immunization of children, in the World Food Program, (and) in Afghanistan," Rice said.

While the United States and its coalition partners have been handling reconstruction efforts in Iraq in the aftermath of Hussein's removal, Rice suggested that more help -- in the form of increased UN assistance -- could be possible.

"The international community recognizes the importance of success -- indeed rapid success -- in investing in the reconstruction of Iraq, that people want to be a part of that," Rice said.

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