Nov 5, 2006

Irony Is Not Dead

The United States wants to head the large U.N. peacekeeping operation, now led by France, when South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon becomes U.N. secretary-general next year, a senior U.S. official said.

"We're trying," the American official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. The U.S. interest in the U.N. undersecretary-general job in peacekeeping has confirmed by two Security Council ambassadors.

With the United States instrumental in Ban's election, the Bush administration believes it has a chance to head the peacekeeping department of more than 90,000 troops, police and civilians, now headed by Frenchman Jean-Marie Guehenno.

Ban is now in France as he tours the five council members.

All undersecretaries-general are asked to resign when a new U.N. chief takes over. Richard Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations, however, played down the U.S. quest for a seat.

"There is no opening, If there were an opening , we would consider nominating someone," Grenell said.

Some key ambassadors said privately they were dismayed by the U.S. move, fearing it would discourage some states from volunteering peacekeepers because of objections to the Bush administration's intervention in Iraq.

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