President George W. Bush met with the new United Nations Secretary General at the White House. Ban Ki-moon, former South Korean foreign minister, took over from Kofi Annan on January 1st. Mr. Bush said the United States "wants to work with the United Nations to achieve a peace through the spread of freedom."
Mr. Ban stressed the importance of U.S. participation in efforts to deal with on-going crises:
On the subject of Iran, Mr. Ban says he is "deeply concerned about the Iranian government's very defiant refusal to engage in talks" and about its decision to proceed with uranium enrichment. He says he will urge Iranian authorities to engage in talks on the nuclear issue.
The United States would like to see greater United Nations involvement in Iraq. Secretary General Ban said the U-N "will continue wherever and whenever we can to increase our presence there, but that will largely be constrained by security concerns."
The United States has sought reforms to improve the U.N.'s management practices, especially its ethics requirements and oversight capabilities. In meetings with members of the U.S. Congress, Secretary General Ban pledged a series of reforms at the U-N. "I am very much committed," he said, "to changing the culture of the United Nations."