News Analysis: Petersburg Summit Calls for UN's Central Role in Iraq Restoration

Petersburg summit calls for UN's central role in Iraq restoration
State leaders of Russia, France and Germany attending the St. Petersburg summit held Fridayreiterated their unanimous view that the United Nations should play a central role in rebuilding postwar Iraq.

The allies, the three main European opponents to US-led war against Iraq, challenged the US-British coalition's plot to dominate the postwar Iraq settlement process.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder have for the first time stood closely together after the US-led war against Iraq broke out, discussing the development of the situation in Iraq andrestoration of the post-Saddam Arab country.

As the Iraqi crisis has entered a new stage following the fall of Saddam's regime, the prime task now is to ensure that Iraq regains its sovereignty and that the Iraqi people recover their dignity and freedom, Chirac noted.

Putin urged the international community to provide humanitarianaid to the war-torn country so that Iraqi people, who suffered massive shocks, would sooner return to a peaceful life.

Schroeder said the United Nations is crucial for bringing "legitimacy" to postwar reconstruction efforts in Iraq. Without participation of the world body, the legitimacy of a new Iraqi regime will be doubted. The experience that the United Nations hasgained in other countries will be indispensable in shaping a democratic Iraqi nation and restoring its states and economic structures.

On the inspection of weapons of mass destruction, Putin noted that the international inspectors should sooner or later return toIraq. Without the presence of the inspection staff,any discovery of weapons of mass destruction in the country will not be widely recognized.

The three allies also hoped to set up a multi-polar world by reinforcing the United Nations' role in international affairs, so that each pole "makes well-balanced decisions", said Chirac.

Echoing Chirac and Schroeder's call for a strong UN role in Iraq, Putin also pressed for reform of the United Nations and of international law.

Given the flaws of the current international law system and serious contradictions, which create a serious potential for conflict, "it is important that this organization have sufficient instruments for solving global problems of international policy and security," Putin remarked.

The leaders called for great efforts to maintain the stability of the international security system, and prevent the international community from breaking apart.

While sticking to their strong stance about the UN role, Russia,France and Germany acknowledged that the United States is indispensable to facilitate UN's pivotal role in postwar Iraq reconstruction. They expressed the willingness to mend ruined relationship with the United States and pursue a wide-range cooperation.

Putin has for the first time said during the summit that the fall of Saddam regime was a positive result of the war in Iraq, inline with France and Germany's opinion that the regime is a "dictatorship".

The three leaders also confirmed at the meeting that they didn't object to the proposal raised by the United States to write off Iraq's debt, which reflect their stance of seeking dialogue and cooperation with the United States despite sharp disagreement overthe Iraq crisis.

Schroeder said the UN is crucial for bringing "legitimacy" to postwar reconstruction efforts in Iraq. "The legitimacy of the restoration of the state and economic structures can be ensured only through international law."

Putin has pointed out that the three-way summit was not aimed at breaking up the international community but to search for a resolution that would be accepted by all involved parties.

Kremlin has clarified earlier that the trilateral summit is nota response to the recent Belfast meeting between US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Observers believed that Russia, France and Germany would have better chances of participating in restoring the Iraqi economy if it took a "constructive" stance alongside the United States when the United Nations debates reconstruction plans.

As the Iraq war appears to be wrapping up, the issue arises as who will control postwar Iraq and namely what role the United Nations, and countries that are not part of the US-British coalition, will play.

The worldwide diplomatic campaigns over rebuilding the postwar Iraq will probably persist for a long time, since the disputes andstruggles, triggered by respective interests of the United States and its three European opponents, will not quickly fade away.

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