U.S. officials agreed with Greek Defense Minister on post war UN involvement in Iraq
Washington.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Greek Defense Minister Giannos Papadoniou had fruitful meetings at the White House with President Bush’s National Security Advisor Condoleza Rice and at the Pentagon with his US counterpart Donald Rumsfeld, during which he discussed issues of post war Iraq, the relations between the United States and Europe, defense matters, and issues involving the bilateral relations between Greece and the U.S.
Talking to the press, after his 40 minute meeting with Condoleza Rice, he stated tha EU and US agree “on the need to involve the U.N. in some way in the arrangements that will be put in place after the end of the war”. That is very important for the Europeans because “ the involvement of the U.N. will legitimize the regime that will follow the existing regime in Iraq and will also make the flow of humanitarian assistance and financial aid more easy and more effective that otherwise would be the case”.
Mr Papadoniou explained that it is much too early for one to be more specific. “I think we should be practical. First comes humanitarian aid. Then, after the war ends, of course, we shall be able to be more specific about the kind of involvement the U.N. will have in the administration of Iraq”, he said.
They expressed the wish to be able to bridge the gaps that have been apparent in recent months, and insure that “the transatlantic relationship remains strong and pursue objectives in terms of preserving and maintaining global peace and security”.
Among other issues discussed was the project of European defense. “The European army, which is called European Rapid Reaction Force, has become a reality and is already since March 31 in Skopje in FYROM, having replaced the existing international mission with the European led force”, Greek Defense Minister mentioned..
Finally, the issue of Turkey came up, in particular with the situation in Cyprus. Mr Papadoniou said that both him and Ms Rice “expressed disappointment about the failure of the efforts to resolve politically this conflict on the basis of the proposals put forward by Secretary General of the U.N. Mr. Kofi Annan”. Mr Papadoniou blamed that on the intransigence of Mr. Denktash, “helped and fostered by the Turkish government, prevented this solution coming about. Greece hopes, that eventually this plan will resurface and will become again the basis for negotiations for resolving politically this sad situation”.
Mr Papadoniou arrived in New York Sunday and he attended the Doxology at the Holly Trinity Cathedral in Manhattan. He also visited Texas, for a ceremony to officially receive the first 3 F-16 fighter planes, from an order of 60. On Thursday he spoke at the Foreign Policy Association on Common European Defense and he attended a reception at the Onassis Foundation.