UN head refuses to increase UN presence in Iraq

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he could not agree to a request from U.S. President George W. Bush to increase the UN presence in Iraq because of security concerns amid rising violence. Ban, who took over as UN chief on Jan. 1, said the United Nations would, nonetheless, try to increase UN participation in the International Compact for Iraq, a five-year plan to ensure that Iraq's government has funds to survive and enact key political and economic reforms. Ban spoke to reporters Wednesday on his return from a two-day visit to Washington, where he held talks with Bush and met US congressional leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "President Bush wanted to see an increased presence and role of the United Nations in Iraq," Ban said.