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Top British U.N. Diplomat Named to Key Post in Iraq

Jeremy Greenstock, who often mediated Security Council tiffs, is to work with Bremer.

June 17, 2003|Maggie Farley | Times Staff Writer

UNITED NATIONS — Britain on Monday named its U.N. ambassador, Jeremy Greenstock, as the country's special representative to Iraq, starting in September. Greenstock will work alongside U.S. civil administrator L. Paul Bremer III, and is expected to press the U.S. to allow a greater U.N. role in rebuilding the Mideast nation, British diplomats said.

Greenstock has been a crucial mediator between the United States and its opponents on the Security Council during his five years at the United Nations, and is expected to bring those talents to bear in Baghdad. Two months after it took over in Iraq, the U.S.-led civilian authority is facing rising frustration among Iraqis and aid workers about the lack of security, basic services and progress toward establishing a new government.

"I'm very pleased that the prime minister has asked me to go and spend some time in Iraq later this year and into next year to try and help bring Iraq back to the control of the Iraqi people and to improve the circumstances on the ground," Greenstock told reporters at the U.N. in New York. "We're making a lot of progress, actually, but the work that is still to do gets the emphasis. Life is still quite difficult in Iraq for Iraqis."

Greenstock has often played the "good cop" to America's "bad cop" on the Security Council, quietly building consensus and forging compromise on the most divisive issues -- especially Iraq. His friends on the council call him "the headmaster" for his professorial bearing; Britain's foes call him "the Voice of America." But he has made clear that Britain is "not always the good cop," he told The Times. He has vocally criticized Washington for not paying its U.N. dues, for abrogating international treaties and for not participating in the newly established International Criminal Court.

"It will be useful to have someone there who can pick up the phone and call the prime minister, who understands Washington politics and understands what the U.N. is capable of [in Iraq]," said one of Greenstock's aides at the United Nations. "He also understands Iraq. He won't need any briefing from here," she said.

His successor at the U.N. will be Emyr Jones Parry, Britain's current ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Greenstock says he speaks "conversational Arabic" from eight years as a diplomat in Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia at the beginning of his 34-year diplomatic career. He will replace John Sawers, a former ambassador to Egypt, who is due back in London to be political director in the Foreign Office. Greenstock is expected to stay at least until spring, when he is scheduled to take over the Ditchley Foundations, a prestigious group that organizes high-level conferences on international affairs.

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Times staff writer John J. Goldman in New York contributed to this report.

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