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Blair: U.N. Should Play Role in Iraq Power Transfer

British Prime Minister Tony Blair (search) said on Thursday that the United Nations should play a key role in mediating Iraq's transition to sovereignty and curtailing the spiraling violence that has hindered the U.S.-led occupation.

"The circumstances will require us at some point in the near future to have a new United Nations (search) Security Council resolution that will allow us to point (the) way toward political transition in Iraq," said Blair, who was to meet President Bush on Friday to discuss the Iraq crisis.

Blair spoke during a joint news conference with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search) at the residence of Britian's U.N. ambassador, Emyr Jones Parry.

Annan said he and Blair discussed recommendations by U.N. special adviser Lakhdar Brahimi (search) for a caretaker government to take power from the U.S.-led coalition on June 30 and lead Iraq until elections in January.

"It has not been easy," Annan said, "but we are trying to do whatever we can to help."

Annan said Brahimi has been trying "to encourage the Iraqis to come to some consensus on how to form a transitional government, and I think Mr. Brahimi's effort is to help them move in that direction."

Brahimi left Iraq on Thursday. He is expected in New York in late April to brief Annan and the U.N. Security Council before returning to Iraq to finalize his recommendations on a transitional government.

He went to Iraq at the request of the coalition and the 25-member U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council to try to come up with a plan acceptable to a wide range of Iraqis.

In recent days, Iraq has seen the heaviest fighting since Baghdad fell to U.S. troops a year ago, with coalition forces fighting Sunni and Shiite Muslim militants.

The violence "is obviously a difficult issue, particularly with security at the moment," Blair said.

"But the determination to get there remains undimmed," he said. "We have to stand firm."

Blair is one of the staunchest supporters of U.S. foreign policy in Iraq, the Middle East and elsewhere, despite criticism at home. He and Bush last met in November, when the president traveled to Britain.