U.S. Stands Alone in U.N. Budget Demand
U.S. Stands Alone in U.N. Budget Demand, at Odds With Europe and Developing World


By EDITH M. LEDERER Associated Press Writer

UNITED NATIONS - The United States stood alone Friday in calling for an interim U.N. budget, at odds with Europe and the entire developing world, and Secretary-General Kofi Annan launched urgent talks to try to bridge the divide.

The fight over the U.N. budget, which runs out on Dec. 31, has become entwined with battle over implementing the broad reforms that world leaders agreed to at a U.N. summit in September.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton wants reform to drive the budget process "not the other way around" and has called for the United Nations to approve a budget for three or four months rather than the usual two-year budget so the 191 U.N. member states would have time to consider management reforms expected early in the year.

"Our priority is we do not want to miss the opportunity for reform. We do not want to adopt a two-year budget that makes it, as a practical matter, impossible to implement reforms for another two years," Bolton said.

But the secretary-general, the European Union and developing countries who constitute the vast majority of U.N. members want a two-year budget adopted by the end of the year. Japan, the second largest contributor to the United Nations behind the United States, shares many U.S. concerns but hasn't taken a position on the length of the budget.

During an hour-long meeting with leaders of regional groups and key negotiators, Annan said he called for agreement by the end of the year on a Peacebuilding Commission to help countries emerging from conflict, progress on a new Human Rights Council, and support for management reforms he has proposed which will be discussed starting Tuesday.

"At the end, everyone agreed that ... we must have a budget, but at the same time we should find some means of maintaining the pressure for reform on," Annan said.

Algeria's U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Baali, a Security Council member, said "everybody wants a two-year budget" except for the United States and cited a U.N. Secretariat assessment that a three-month budget would create a financial crisis.

Britain's U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, whose country holds the European Union presidency, said the EU opposes any "formal linkage" between reform and the budget. He said he was also convinced that a temporary solution would make it harder for "the U.N. to carry out essential functions."

The way forward, he said, is a two-year budget with "a clear statement in which we all commit ourselves to put in place a whole series of changes next year and a timetable for doing those and in the light of that, to actually then review the budget that we would by then have adopted."

Bolton said the United States is open to other suggestions.

"I haven't given up on the possibility that sweet reason will prevail," he said.

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