The head of the United Nations says since no countries are willing to lead a multinational force in Somalia, he will ask the Security Council to consider other ways to help bring peace to the country.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held a year-end news conference in New York on Wednesday, a day after the UN authorized the use of land and sea attacks to help fight Somali piracy.

"The threat of anarchy is clear and present, so is the need to act," he said.

Washington is pushing for a peacekeeping force in the country, which has been without a formal government since 1991 when warlords overthrew a dictatorship and then turned on one another.

Ban has balked at the idea of a peacekeeping force, saying it's too risky and that a much larger multinational force is needed.

Ban said one Security Council member country has offered to provide financial assistance and airlift capacity, while "one or two" other UN countries have said they are willing to send troops. Ban didn't say which countries had made the offers.

Not one of the 50 countries and three regional organizations he contacted has offered to lead the mission, he said.

"That is why I am asking the Security Council to consider other options," he said, including strengthening the capacity of the African union, establishing a maritime task force to set the stage for an eventual peacekeeping mission, or offering improved training and resources to Somali security forces.

Zimbabwe, Iran on UN radar

Ban addressed several other issues during the hour-long news conference, including Zimbabwe, fresh tension between India and Pakistan, and the change of government in the United States.

Zimbabwe stands on the brink of social, economic and political collapse, said Ban. The country is dealing with an outbreak of cholera, an acute food shortage and an economy in ruins.

Ban said President Robert Mugabe assured him several weeks ago that he would allow a UN envoy into the country, but he recently changed his mind, telling the UN the timing was not right.

"If this is not the time, when is?" asked Ban.

He called for leaders of India and Pakistan not to let last month's deadly attacks in Mumbai derail talks between the two countries.

India has blamed Pakistani-based militants for carrying out the attacks and has pressured Islamabad to crack down on terrorism.

"Peace between the two will have great implications, not only in the subcontinent, but throughout the world," said Ban. "They should maintain and improve their relationship through dialogue and also a mutual respect and understanding."

Ban also said he has conveyed "through many channels" his hope that U.S. president-elect Barack Obama will make Middle East peace talks a key priority when he takes office on Jan. 20.

The UN chief named Iran's failure to cooperate with international nuclear inspectors as another issue for the new president. Western countries believe Iran is developing a nuclear program to build weapons, while Tehran maintains the program is for energy purposes.

Job 'humbling'

When asked to reflect on his two years on the job, Ban said his role has been humbling.

"I started my job with excitement," he said. "Then this excitement … turned into a very humbling period having seen so many people whose human rights and personal wellbeing has been not so well-treated."

Despite attending 350 meetings with presidents, prime ministers and ministers, and flying roughly 400,000 kilometres during the past year, Ban said a lack of resources and political continues to hamper progress.

"This has been frustrating, or troubling," he said. "This year we've been confronted with so many crises. This has been a really difficult year."

Issues such as climate change and improved education could have been better addressed with more political will, he said, adding he would like to see 2009 be the year to tackle climate change.

"We have no time to waste. We must reach a global climate change deal by the end of the year."

With files from the Associated Press