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US infuriated by UN official's speech
No. 2 at United Nations criticizes US
The Associated Press (apwire)     Print Article 
Published 2006-06-08 00:06 (KST)   
The United States demanded Wednesday that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan repudiate a speech in which his No. 2 official broke with tradition and accused the United States of undermining the United Nations.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton called the speech by Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown a "very, very grave mistake" that could undermine Annan's own efforts to push through an ambitious agenda of reform at the world body.

"I spoke to the secretary-general this morning. I said 'I've known you since 1989 and I'm telling you this is the worst mistake by a senior U.N. official that I have seen in that entire time,'" Bolton told reporters.

"To have the deputy secretary-general criticize the United States in such a manner can only do grave harm to the United Nations," Bolton said.

In the speech, delivered Tuesday, Malloch Brown said that the United States relies on the United Nations as a diplomatic tool but does not defend it before critics at home, a policy he called unsustainable.

He lamented that that the good works of the U.N. are largely lost because "much of the public discourse that reaches the U.S heartland has been largely abandoned to its loudest detractors such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News." The speech was delivered at a daylong conference sponsored by two think tanks, the Center for American Progress and The Century Foundation.

It was a rare instance of a senior U.N. official directly and openly criticizing a member state. An unwritten U.N. rule says that high-ranking officials do not name names or shame nations, even among current and former colleagues.

Yet Malloch Brown and even Annan have done it a few time in the past. Last year, with the U.N. under intense criticism over the Iraq oil-for-food program, Annan claimed that U.N. opponents had been "relentless," and the world body wasn't fighting back enough.

U.S. officials including Bolton said they were especially upset that Malloch Brown mentioned "Middle America," which he said was essentially kept ignorant about the U.N. role in the world.

Bolton said Malloch Brown's "condescending, patronizing tone about the American people" was the worst part about the speech.

"Fundamentally and very sadly, this was a criticism of the American people, not the American government, by an international civil servant," Bolton said. "It's just illegitimate."
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter The Associated Press

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