Independance, Mo. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his farewell address, urged the United States not to abandon its democratic ideals while waging war against terrorism.
In remarks Monday at the Truman Presidential Museum and Library, Annan also said the Security Council should be expanded.
"Human rights and the rule of law are vital to global security and prosperity," Annan told a packed crowd.
When the U.S. "appears to abandon its own ideals and objectives, its friends abroad are naturally troubled and confused," he said.
Annan, who leaves the United Nations on Dec. 31 after 10 years as secretary-general, has become an increasingly vocal critic of the war in Iraq.
But Annan disputed media reports, based on a released text of his remarks, that he was criticizing the United States, saying "nothing could be further from the truth."
"What I am saying here is that when the U.S. works with other countries in a multilateral system we do extremely well," he said. "Our world is in a sorry state, we have lots of problems around the world, we require that natural leadership role that the U.S. has played in the past and can play today.
"To appeal for cooperation and leadership should never be seen as an attack."
In Washington, the State Department was reserved in its reaction to Annan's remarks.
"He is entitled to his opinion," spokesman Sean McCormack said.
"There's no secretary general of the United Nations that's going to be in lockstep with the United States or any other country with regard to its policies," McCormack said. "It's not that person's job."
Annan said last week's report by the Iraq Study Group clarified many issues, but he said the world first needs to find a way to get Iraqis to reconcile with one another.
"We need to be as active on the political front as we are on the military front," he said.
Annan said it was also important to get nearby countries, including Iran and Syria, involved in finding a solution to regional problems.
Annan summed up five principles that he considers essential: collective responsibility, global solidarity, rule of law, mutual accountability and multilateralism.
He chose the Truman museum for his final major speech in part because it is dedicated to a president who was instrumental in the founding of the United Nations. The museum was under tight security, including sharpshooters on the roof and a strong police presence. Only a handful of protesters appeared outside the museum.
Annan never mentioned President Bush by name in his speech but drew clear contrasts with the Truman administration, which he praised.
"As President Truman said, 'The responsibility of the great states is to serve and not dominate the peoples of the world,"' Annan said.
"He believed strongly that henceforth security must be collective and indivisible. That was why, for instance, that he insisted when faced with aggression by North Korea against the South in 1950, on bringing the issue to the United Nations," Annan said. "Against such threats as these, no nation can make itself secure by seeking supremacy over all others."
"Against such threats as these, no nation can make itself secure by seeking supremacy over all others," he added.
Annan also called for a reform of the Security Council, saying its membership "still reflects the reality of 1945." He suggested adding new members to represent parts of the world with less of a voice.