British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Tuesday that the U.N. Security Council should be careful not to "play games" with Iraq's reconstruction.

His comments came as the United States and Britain begin to look toward humanitarian and reconstruction projects in Iraq. U.S.-picked representatives of some of Iraq's factions were to meet Tuesday to begin shaping the country's postwar government.

Speaking during a four-nation trip to the Persian Gulf, Straw said the United Nations plays a vital role in restoring stability to Iraq, but added that it "depends on the degree to which others in the Security Council, particularly the permanent five, show a similarly constructive approach."

The role of the United Nations or that of individual nations in Iraq's future is unclear. The United States has invited its coalition partners to talks on rebuilding Iraq -- but it has left out countries that opposed the war, including Germany, France and Russia. The latter two are permanent members of the Security Council.

"Instead of arguing about what has been or what might have been, accept that there is a new reality in Iraq and it is a responsibility of all members ... not to play games but to recognize this new reality and to move forward," Straw urged.

Washington has stated repeatedly that the U.S.-led coalition will take the lead in running and rebuilding the country; the European Union and many other nations are pushing for greater U.N. involvement.

The coalition is struggling to contain widespread looting, restore power to major cities and sow the seeds of a fledgling government. But many Iraqis have already said they will boycott Tuesday's civil administration meeting and they opposed U.S. plans to install retired Gen. Jay Garner as head of an interim administration.

Straw also reiterated warnings to Syria to cooperate with coalition forces amid U.S. claims the Arab state is harboring Iraqi leaders and has chemical weapons.

"There are some important questions for Syria to answer and to deal with," Straw said.

Syria has angrily denied the charges.

Straw was traveling to Saudi Arabia later Tuesday. He earlier made stops in Kuwait and Bahrain.