Annan Brings UN to Middle East Diplomacy


After long separation from actual efforts to handle the Middle East conflict, Kofi Annan succeeded in bringing the UN to the mainstream of the diplomatic activity. During the Madrid "Quartet" meeting in Europe, the U.S., UN and Russia, it was Annan who read the final communiqué. He also intervened when the humanitarian crisis took a catastrophic turn. He made an excellent selection in the three member fact-finding committee.

The decision not to open a series of consultations, which would have taken two months (as was the case during the formation of the bypassed Mitchell group), was equally laudable. Disbanding the mission will cast a long shadow over the UN's role. A follow-up meeting in Washington with the Madrid Quartet included Mr. Annan, who managed to become a new and inevitable contributor towards a solution. That may be one of his biggest diplomatic challenges. He and his heart are in the right place.

Let us hope he has the right team to help him get the job done. That is in the interest of a long suffering region, it is in the interest of world peace; it is after all, in the UN's best interest.