has effectively pressed member states into action on several issues, including Lebanon and Iran.
WhileneitherMr.BushnorMr.Ban mentionedIraqintheirbriefOvalOffice comments, the new secretarygeneralsoundedafarmoreagreeable tone than did his predecessor, Kofi Annan.Beforedepartinghispost,Mr. Annan called the Iraq war “illegal” anddeclaredthecountrysaferunder dictatorSaddamHussein,whoslaughteredhundredsofthousandsofIraqis during his rule.
Thesecretary-general’slongdayin Washington ended with a dinner for “120 of his best new friends” at the Kalorama home of Esther Coopersmith,Washington’sreigning“hostest with the mostest.” Rep. Tom Lantos, CaliforniaDemocrat,salutedhimwith anemotionaltoasttotheUnitedStates as a partner with the U.N. “Had it not beenfortheUnitedStatesIwouldnot behere,”saidMr.Lantos,aHolocaust survivor, “and had it not been for the UnitedStatesyourcountrywouldnot have survived. You and I have a spe- cialbond.WedonotbelievetheUnited States to be the ‘great Satan.’ ”
Mr.Banansweredinkind,taking note of South Korea’s debt to the United States and the U.N. In a lighter vein, he quipped that if the New Orleans Saints should oppose the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, “I’m glad that as a diplomatIwon’tbeforcedtochoose between God and country.”
Earlier in the day, Mr. Bush appeared pleased to be starting with a clean slate, and smiled often as he assuredMr.Banthatheplannedtocontinue to work with the world body — although he stopped mid-sentence to changeawordhemaynothavemeant touse.“TheUnitedStatesiswilling— wantstoworkwiththeUnitedNations toachieveapeacethroughthespread of freedom,” Mr. Bush said. “I appreciatesoverymuchhowyouopenedup the discussion with a strong commitmenttodemocracyandfreedom,”he told Mr. Ban.
For his part, Mr. Ban expressed hope that the United States would continueitsroleasaU.N.leaderashe urged continued support for the organization. “I would need strong participation and support of the United StatesinallactivitiesoftheUnitedNations. In fact, I believe that the United NationsandUnitedStateshaveshared objectives—peaceandsecurity,freedom,democracy.Alltheseimportant goals and ideas are what the United Statesisalsotryingtoachieve,”hesaid.
While neither leader spoke of Iraq after their meeting, Mr. Ban spoke freely afterward with reporters on theWhiteHousedriveway.“Iraqand elsewhere needs an urgent attention of the international community,” he said. “Particularly when it comes to Iraq, the international community should have all possible assistance to help Iraqi government and people to restore peace and stability and recover from economic devastation.”