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Annan frustrated over US rejection of rights body

Written by: Staff
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UNITED NATIONS, Mar 3 (Reuters) Secretary-General Kofi Annan voiced frustration at the United States and urged it to join other nations in hammering out a plan for a new, more credible U.N. Human Rights Council.

''I'm chagrined about the US position,'' Annan told reporters yesterday. He praised the United States for a ''leadership and moral position'' on human rights'' but hoped it would ''find some way of associating itself with the other member states.'' ''It is important that the decision be taken as soon as possible.

And I think the member states should find a way of bringing this issue to closure,'' Annan added.

US Ambassador John Bolton on Monday announced Washington's opposition to the draft resolution and said he would vote ''no'' if a vote was called.

At the same time Britain distanced itself from a European position on a new rights council, saying that US opposition had to be taken into consideration before a draft resolution, drawn up by UN General Assembly President Jan Eliasson, was adopted.

The 25-member European Union late on Wednesday said they considered that the draft met ''the basic requirements for the establishment of a Human Rights Council.'' ''The EU could therefore accept this text as a compromise,'' it said, adding that it supported efforts by Eliasson.

But British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said that for the council to be effective ''it will need the support of the United States.'' He said Eliasson's draft was acceptable but urged discussions ''with the US administration in order to identify a basis for the widest possible support.'' Republican members of the US Congress want to make formation of the council a condition for paying the full US dues to the United Nations.

The new rights council is to replace the discredited Geneva-based Human Rights Commission, where rights violators on the commission have protected condemnation of each other's and other nations' abuses.

Supporters of the draft say more talks would not improve the resolution but open up line-by-line negotiations to all countries.

Cuba has already submitted its own amendments.

Bolton said he wants stiffer conditions to prevent rights violators from getting a seat on the council and to make it easier for the United States to get a seat.

REUTERS DH RAI0742

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