Annan backs deputy's attack on Washington

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The Independent US

Kofi Annan has defended his senior deputy from sharp US criticism about a speech that faulted Washington's attitude toward the UN.

Mr Annan said the thrust of the speech, from deputy secretary general Mark Malloch Brown, was that the US and the UN need each other. He warned the US against abandoning efforts to reform the world body because of the remarks.

"If one is going to use the argument that 'I'm not satisfied with reform and I'm going to close down the shop,' they will have lots of explanation to do, not just in this building but to the people out there," Mr Annan said.

Mr Malloch Brown said the US relies on the UN diplomatically but refuses to defend it before its critics. "Much of the public discourse that reaches the US heartland has been abandoned to its loudest detractors such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News," he said.

The US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton called the speech a "very, very grave mistake." In unusually strong remarks, Mr Bolton ominously warned that the speech threatened the organisation itself.

The comments could wreak havoc on efforts to reform the UN, he said, calling the remarks a "classic political mistake and I don't think we've seen the end of the consequences."