Ready for UN challenge

Greece said yesterday that it can handle the task of taking over today the monthlong presidency of the United Nations Security Council at a crucial time for the organization and the international community. In a statement to Kathimerini, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis identified the unrest in the Middle East, Iran’s nuclear program and the contest to elect a new UN secretary-general to replace Kofi Annan next year as the main issues that Greece will have to contend with over the next month. «Negotiations will be frequent this month as… New York will become the center of international diplomacy,» Bakoyannis said. «We are ready to carry out our duty in close cooperation with the Security Council… The belief that diplomacy can solve international problems, thereby contributing to peace and stability in the world, will guide our actions,» the minister added. However, Greece’s task appears even more complicated as it emerged yesterday that Iran has failed to stop enriching uranium, ignoring a UN deadline of midnight yesterday for an end to its nuclear program. The findings are set out in a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which was leaked. The report, which is due to be submitted to the Security Council, could lead to sanctions. Bakoyannis held talks in Athens yesterday with Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Mohammad Nahavandian about the Muslim state’s nuclear program. Tehran wants less focus on «strict timetables» and more emphasis on «constructive dialogue,» Nahavandian, an aide to Iran’s National Security Council, said after the meeting. The 15 permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council are due to agree Tuesday on the timetable of meetings for September, based on a plan that has been drawn up by Greece. Bakoyannis will travel to New York on September 15 to take part in the UN General Assembly, which she will address a week later. «Our aim is to always achieve the broadest possible international consensus and support for the decisions which will be taken,» Bakoyannis said. «We have prepared well.»