U.S. Will Seize Diplomatic Opportunities at U.N. 'Freedom' Tops Bush Agenda for General Assembly Session
Byline: Betsy Pisik, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
NEW YORK - U.S. diplomats this week will swallow their frustrations over the unwieldy U.N. bureaucracy and press for diplomatic progress at the annual General Assembly debate a global forum that will address issues ranging from Iran's nuclear ambitions to the war in Sudan.
The world body enacted few of the most important reforms proposed last year, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's plans to work in New York for more than a week reflects a recognition that, for better or worse, the United Nations is virtually the only forum to address a growing basket of global problems.
President Bush, by tradition, will address the world body on its opening morning, at about 11:30 today.
The administration plans to stress its "freedom agenda," particularly for the Middle East, a State Department official said last week.
The U.S. program for the session includes a private "democracy round table" for two dozen world leaders, a forum on Burma's human rights violations to be hosted by first lady Laura Bush, and tightly timed bilateral meetings for Mr. Bush and Miss Rice with their foreign counterparts.
U.S. officials said they are hopeful that the reform agenda that dominated last year's discussions will continue through the 61st session of the General Assembly.
During the seven-day debate, scores of world leaders will take the podium to share their views and meet on the sidelines to forge agreements on issues ranging from sanctions to trade and from peace to war.
That, diplomats said, is the power of the United Nations, even with all its imperfections.
"Why do people come to the U.N.?" French Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere asked last week, even as he lamented the slow progress on reforms. …