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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 September, 2003, 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK
Putin urges UN role in Iraq
By Barnaby Mason
BBC diplomatic correspondent

The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has called on the United Nations to participate directly in the reconstruction of Iraq.

He also told the UN General Assembly in New York that threats to civilisation should be countered only by legitimate collective action.

President Putin
Putin put the emphasis on collective response
Mr Putin emphasised the central role of the UN in international affairs, but speaking shortly before meeting President George W Bush at Camp David, he said nothing to provoke the United States.

Mr Putin made only a passing reference to the strong differences on how to resolve the Iraq crisis earlier this year.

Now, he said, only direct participation of the UN in the reconstruction of Iraq would allow its people to decide their future independently.

But he did not specify what its role should be, suggesting that that would not be a particular sticking point for Russia in negotiations on a new UN Security Council resolution.

UN Reform

The issue of how the UN can deal with unilateral military action in the future has become a big issue at this session.

Mr Putin agreed with Washington that the most dangerous challenge was the risk of weapons of mass destruction getting into the hands of terrorists.

But he said such threats to civilisation should be countered only through collective responses whose legitimacy was not in doubt.

On reform of the UN and enlargement of the Security Council, Mr Putin emphasised that they should proceed cautiously and be extremely careful about interfering in the fabric and mechanisms of the UN's work.

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