UN Lobbies for $1 Billion Loan to Fix Glass Tower

The check is not in the mail but a U.N. official on Monday lobbied President Bush for a $1 billion interest-free loan so the United Nations could renovate its crumbling headquarters that marks the Manhattan skyline.

"We raised it everywhere, Catherine Bertini did," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (news - web sites) told Reuters, referring to the U.N. undersecretary-general for management and finances, an American who had headed the World Food Program for 10 years.

Annan and his delegation spent a day meeting officials at the State Department, the White House and congressional leaders on Liberia, the Middle East, AIDS (news - web sites) -- and the U.N. "capital master plan."

Completed in 1952, the distinctive glass skyscraper has water dripping through its roof, toxic asbestos lining the ceiling tiles, no sprinklers in case of fire and erratic heating and cooling systems.

Annan said the request had to get into the State Department budget first before it could go to Congress. This would mean Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites) would have to find room in his budget to absorb about $600 million "in one go," he said.

Annan said he teased Powell by saying "It's a shame you are not the Pentagon (news - web sites)."

The new plan calls for building a 30-story office tower in a nearby park that would house staff during the renovation and then become a permanent home for U.N. agencies now renting space in other buildings.

600450 UN Lobbies for $1 Billion Loan to Fix Glass Tower glassonweb.com

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