Kofi Annan paid a lightning visit to Stockholm on Friday to discuss with Swedish Prime Minsiter Göran Persson how to prevent the forthcoming UN summit from failing.
“We are both very concerned about the reform of the United Nations and we want to see a solid outcome at the summit,” Annan told a press conference after the meeting.
The UN summit is being held in New york on the 14th-16th September. The meeting, which Persson is chairing, will focus on reforms of the organisation and on how to ensure member states meet the goals set for them five years ago to halve world poverty by 2015 – goals which so far have not been acted upon.
John Bolton, the newly appointed American ambassador to the United Nations, has handed in a list of over 750 suggestions for changes to the document that UN member states have been negotiating on for the past six months.
Further trouble for the UN is threatened in the form of a report, expected next week, on senior UN officials’ roles in the Iraq Oil for Food scandal. Kofi Annan’s son, Kojo, is among those suspected of wrongdoing.
The scandal has given ammunition to the American administration and Bolton, a long-standing critic of the United Nations.
During their 30 minute meeting on Friday, Persson and Annan discussed how they would prevent the summit from turning into a fiasco.
“The prime minister and Sweden have a very important role to play in this process, which is at a very difficult stage,” said Annan.
“It’s not looking good,” Persson conceded, “but then, it depends what you can expect us to acheive over two days.”
“For our part, it is important to build alliances with constructive partners in certain capitals, and help out where it gets sticky,” he volunteered.
Britain, which currently holds the EU presidency, is also said to be working hard with the United States to ensure that the summit doesn’t crumble.
“What we want are conclusions which are much more than simply more words, but actually say something which can be turned into something that is done,” British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Newport, Wales, on Friday.
The summit will kick off the UN’s sixtieth General Assembly, which will be led by Jan Eliasson, Sweden’s ambassador.