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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release December 13, 1996


On UN Security Council Approval of Annan

I'm delighted by today's vote in the United Nations Security Council, selecting Kofi Annan of Ghana to be the new UN Secretary General. We are hopeful that the General Assembly will concur with the Security Council early next week.

Through his decades of work at the United Nations and in the international arena, Kofi Annan has established excellent working relations with many countries, including the United States. Over the last four years as UN Undersecretary for Peacekeeping, and throughout his impressive career, he has proven himself an able and energetic manager -- professional, impartial, well-versed in the issues at hand, and a true proponent of reform. We are confident he will take concrete steps to inspire the world to support the UN, inspire the UN to live up to its ideals, and transform those ideals into action.

Since its founding more than half a century ago, the United Nations has been a vehicle for peace and progress that has served the interests of America and the world. Since taking office, I have worked hard with Congress to sustain America's support for the United Nations.

Precisely because we believe in the United Nations, my Administration has also led the fight for far-reaching UN reform. To meet the challenges of the 21st century, the UN must keep pace with the times -- achieving its work with fewer people and resources, reducing waste and rationalizing priorities, and producing better results at lower costs. The world community needs a United Nations that spends less on overhead and outdated agencies and more on services that directly benefit people's daily lives.

I believe the United Nations must have a leader who is committed to these goals. That is why I decided we needed a new Secretary General. I knew this would be a controversial decision, but it was the right thing to do.

The outgoing UN Secretary General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, is an honorable man who has led a great career -- from the breakthrough for Middle East peace at Camp David to his leadership of the United Nations as it celebrated its 50th anniversary. Now, we must prepare the United Nations for the demands of the next 50 years. I am confident Kofi Annan will rise to this task with conviction.

I am committed to work closely with the Congress to meet America's obligations to the United Nations and to make good on our arrears. And I am sure that my nominee for our UN Ambassador, Bill Richardson, will work effectively with the new Secretary General to renew and revitalize this historic organization to take on the challenges of the future.

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