UN role in post-war Iraq on UK-US summit agenda

07.04.03 @ 09:48

  1. By Sharon Spiteri

The UN's role in post-war Iraq will be one of the issues of contention between the UK's Tony Blair and the US's George W Bush, in Belfast for a two-day summit - the third they have held in three weeks.

While both have agreed that the US will be in control of Iraq in the immediate aftermath of the war, with an eventual handover to an Iraqi authority, differences still exist over the role of the UN and how long the process of handover should take.

The UK wants the UN to oversee a conference of Iraqis, which would choose new leaders, with a special co-ordinator to supervise the process. But the Americans want to limit the organisation's role to a humanitarian one, the BBC reported.

The meeting will also focus on the Middle East peace process and Northern Ireland.

Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern is expected to join the talks on Northern Ireland on Tuesday, as are the leaders of the three major pro-Good Friday Agreement parties, the Ulster Unionists, Sinn Fein and the Social Democratic Labour Party.

With the fifth anniversary of the Good Friday agreement on Thursday, Mr Blair hopes that Mr Bush's presence will increase the chance of a breakthrough on IRA disarmament, the Irish Independent reports.

But the US President is likely to be greeted by anti-war demonstrators from all over Ireland, the Guardian says.

There is also fierce opposition to the Dublin government allowing Shannon airport to be used as a stopover for US planes, given the Republic's professed neutrality.

Mr Ahern claims that this is a continuation of policy since the use of Shannon has taken place for many years, and to change the policy would change the country's neutrality.

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