NEWS

Only UN can run postwar Iraq, PM says

US Secretary of State Colin Powell, on a fence-mending visit to Turkey and Europe, is to meet with senior EU officials in Brussels today to discuss EU-US relations and the war in Iraq. Among the officials he will hold talks with is Foreign Minister George Papandreou, as Greece holds the EU presidency. On one of the key issues – post-war Iraq – Prime Minister Costas Simitis was adamant yesterday. «The UN must play a decisive role in Iraq after the war,» he told a gathering of European Socialist Party parliament members in Athens. He stressed the dangers «of the belligerents playing a decisive role in developments.» Simitis said the four immediate priorities were for a quick end to the war, international intervention to prevent a humanitarian catastrophes, to bring peace and democracy to Iraq while protecting its territorial integrity and supporting international legality. «The decisive role played by the belligerents precludes the cooperation of the Arab countries, which should participate in developments,» Simitis said. Referring to talks he has held with Arab officials, he added, «If there is a regime in Iraq which is determined by those who waged the war, if the Palestinian issue is not solved, if there are threats in the air regarding other countries in the region, the whole Arab world will react. And this reaction cannot be limited just to this region. The Mediterranean will not be immune nor perhaps will other parts of the world,» Simitis said. Referring to a move by four EU countries (Belgium, France, Germany and Luxembourg) to hold a meeting on stronger EU military cooperation, Simitis said «Greece considers this useful and, depending on developments, may quite possibly participate.» He spoke with President Jacques Chirac and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder about bringing the issue to the EU. Foreign Minister Papandreou met with his French counterpart, Dominique de Villepin. «The problem is not just to win the war but how to win the peace,» he said. Papandreou also discussed humanitarian aid for Iraq in a call with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Two Greek doctors with the Greek chapter of Medecins du Monde arrived in Baghdad with two trucks of aid.