UNITED NATIONS, AUG 5 (AP): The United Nations will have to rely on the US-led multinational force in Iraq for security for its new envoy in Baghdad because no country has offered troops for a separate UN protection force, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Wednesday.
Ashraf Jehangir Qazi of Pakistan will take up his post as UN special representative in Iraq before a national conference of political, religious and civic leaders gets under way in mid-August, he said.
But Qazi will only be deployed with a small team, and Annan told Security Council ambassadors Wednesday that at least 5,000 troops will be needed to protect the much larger UN staff needed to help Iraq through elections and in rebuilding the country, according to a council diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Where those troops might come from -- and when the United Nations might return in force -- is becoming an increasingly pressing problem because the interim government's timetable calls for elections by the end of January 2005.
Annan pulled all UN international staff out of Iraq in October following two bombings at UN headquarters and a spate of attacks. A Security Council resolution adopted unanimously on June 8 authorised a separate UN protection force under the overall command of the multinational force.
But nearly two months later, Annan said, "we haven't had much success attracting governments to sign up."
The United Nations has been in negotiations with about half a dozen countries, he said. "The Saudis have also raised the idea of an Islamic force that will go in and protect the UN staff and eventually take over from the multinational force and work with the Iraqis."
"But even if that is going to happen, I think it is going to take some time," Annan said.