UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on 17 November that the organisation was not yet ready to return to the Iraqi capital, adding that it might be possible to return sooner if it were to operate from a base outside the capital. . 'I think we need to assess the security situation,' he told reporters in New York. 'There [have] been some suggestions that there are other parts of the country which [are] relatively risk-free and that one could consider operating from there.' Annan said that all options were being studied, and that security at the UN's Baghdad headquarters was still under review. 'The moment we put ourselves in fortresses, we are not going to be as effective and as efficient, and it raises a question: is it even worth being on the ground?'
Annan said that he was pleased by a recent announcement from the US that it was looking at a plan that would hand back authority to Iraqis in about 7-8 months and give the UN a greater role in the country. 'I am encouraged by the development - I have spoken to [UK] ambassador Greenstock, [US] Secretary of State Colin Powell and [Jalal] Talabani, who is President of the Iraqi Governing Council, and they briefed me on the plan and the desire for the UN to play an active role, particularly from the part of Mr. Talabani.' Annan said that he was looking at candidates for the role of special representative in Iraq, which he will appoint in the near future.