WASHINGTON -- The U.N. Security Council took seats in the historic Old Senate Chamber Thursday for a greeting and a civics lesson from Sen. Jesse Helms. The ardent critic of the world body reminded the visiting delegates of the Senate's "unique role" in U.S. foreign policy.

"I know it's been suggested to you that the president alone" speaks on behalf of the United States on foreign policy matters, Helms, R-N.C., said. "Not in the United States."The delegates accepted Helms' invitation after he became the first U.S. lawmaker to address the Security Council last January. All 15 members came from New York, billing it as an unofficial visit and arriving individually.

"Welcome to the heart of democracy," said Helms, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a fierce past critic of the world body.

Just as he had done in his New York speech, Helms mixed cordiality with a few digs at the world body.

He said he knew it was "difficult for some visitors" to understand the "unique role the Senate plays," including the power to ratify treaties, confirm ambassadors and pay for foreign operations. "It is my hope that this may be helpful to you," he said.

Earlier, the delegates were greeted by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

"I thank them all for not only going the extra mile but the extra 200 miles," said Albright, herself a former U.N. ambassador.