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Bolton Seeks Changes to U.N. Millennium Development Goals<P>By Warren Hoge THE NEW YORK TIMES <P>UNITED NATIONS <P>

Bolton Seeks Changes to U.N. Millennium Development Goals

By Warren Hoge


John R. Bolton, the American ambassador here, came under fire and fired back on Wednesday over hundreds of changes he is seeking to a pivotal document on aid for the developing world and change at the United Nations.

The dispute centers on American objections, which became public only late last week, to objectives covering poverty, hunger, education, health, the environment and humanitarian intervention.

They are known as the millennium development goals and are considered the framework of a summit meeting of more than 170 presidents and prime ministers in two weeks.

“The United States came in a few days ago essentially to try to gut this document,” said Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and special adviser to Secretary-General Kofi Annan SM ’72 on the millennium goals. “Their purpose is clear: to try to eliminate the momentum behind the millennium development goals and to wriggle free of the commitments they have made.”

Annan, cutting short an African vacation to return to his office on Wednesday, said the goals were seen by most countries as defining the U.N. mission.

“I don’t think anyone can remove them from the general public’s perception of how we are moving ahead with development,” he said. “I’m not sure the other member states would want to see the millennium development goals dropped, or worse, expunged from the document.”

Bolton, who met with Annan, said the proposed changes were being wrongly portrayed as a break with past American commitments that were agreed to at the millennium summit meeting in 2000.

He said what the United States objected to was the way the U.N. secretariat later codified those goals into numerical targets and timetables, like the pledge that countries devote seven-tenths of one percent of gross national product to development assistance.

“Quite some time ago the president said unequivocally we support the development goals in the millennium summit declaration,” Bolton told reporters. “Now that’s different from the goals that were actually written by the secretariat. There is no backing away by the United States in the support for the millennium summit declaration.”

Bolton also disputed charges that the hundreds of changes the United States was requesting came at the 11th hour, or that he had originated them.

To demonstrate his point, he held up documents from the U.S. mission dating back to June and July showing many of the language deletions and amendments. Bolton took up his post on Aug. 1.

“I think it’s important that people understand we haven’t done something at the last minute that wasn’t part of an effort that was ongoing from the beginning,” he said.

Bolton spent the day with ambassadors from 35 countries in intensive talks that Jean Ping of Gabon, the president of the General Assembly, convened to try to resolve differences.