Published 5/22/2004 2:31 PM
TUNIS, Tunisia, May 22 (UPI) -- Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said Saturday that United Nations peacekeepers should watch over Iraq rather than the U.S.-led troops who toppled the regime of former president Saddam Hussein a little more than a year ago.
"They should withdraw and hand over security to the U.N.," Gadhafi said in a press conference at the presidential guesthouse outside of Tunis after he walked out of the opening session of the two-day Arab League summit.
U.S.-led administrators in Iraq are expected to hand over sovereignty to an as yet unnamed "caretaker government" on June 30.
Lakhdar Brahimi, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special representative to Iraq, is currently meeting with representatives from around the country to come up with a list of leaders that might form the new government. The current U.S.-appointed Iraq Governing Council has asked for the more than 130,000 U.S.-led troops to stay in the country following the transfer of power. But U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has also said that U.S. troops will leave if they are not asked to stay.
"I can guarantee that United Nations troops would not be violent to the Iraqi people, and Iraqi people would not be violent to them," Gadhafi said. "This would save the United States and Britain from the situation they are in. It would save the embarrassment of the Arab states and it would relieve the honor of the United Nations."
At the same time, Amr Moussa, the spokesman for the Arab League, told leaders of the 22 members that the United Nations could help calm the situation. United Nations workers are expected to organize national elections for next January. United Nations officials have said it takes at least eight months to technically organize such an election, from creating rules for voting to registering voters and finding polling stations, among other things.
"We're looking for United Nations help in Iraq, and that will make the situation better," Mousa said. "It will be good when the United Nations takes a role in Iraq."
Gadhafi said the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization should help Iraq just as the two international bodies helped Kosovo following NATO bombing Yugoslavia in 1999. He compared the number of people being killed in Iraq since U.S.-led troops rolled in to the number of people massacred in Kosovo under Milosovic.
Arab countries may also contribute to such an international peacekeeping force he is proposing, Gadhafi said.
"Such forces would help to build peace until things are safe," Qadafi said.
At the same time, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in an interview Friday said that Egypt and other countries such as Jordan and Syria might send troops to Iraq if U.S. forces left. Neighboring Jordan already has trained several hundred Iraq police and soldiers at training courses run for the most part by private U.S. security companies.
Leaders at the two-day summit are discussing, many for the first time, issues of democracy, women's rights and civil society. The summit is also to address creating a common Arab investment bank and creating other conditions necessary to develop a common economic market similar to the European Union.
Edited by Lottie, 23 May 2004 - 01:27 AM.