Return of UN to Iraq is 'key' to self-determination

A delegation of top Iraqi officials has told the UN Security Council that the return of the UN to the country was "key" to the process of restoring sovereignty to the Iraqi people.

The Security Council President, Ambassador Heraldo Muñoz of Chile, characterized the closed-door session with the Iraqi delegation, led by the Governing Council's current President, Adnan Pachachi, as a "constructive exchange of views".

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who also attended the discussion, met yesterday with Iraqis as well as representatives from the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). During those talks, the parties asked the Secretary-General to send an advisory team to Iraq to "examine the feasibility of direct elections" before the handover of sovereignty at the end of June, as well as possible alternatives.

Speaking to reporters after the session, Governing Council member Abdel Aziz Al-Hakim reiterated the wish of leading cleric Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who has called for direct elections, for a "neutral" party to decide if such elections are possible prior to the transition of power to the Iraqis.

"With that, we ask the United Nations to play its role and [uphold] its responsibility in this case," he said.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Mahmud Muhammad al-Zibari told reporters that there was agreement that should be a UN presence to help Iraqis achieve political stability.

Mr al-Zibari said: "There is a general consensus among all members of the Security Council that we need the UN, we need it to be back in Iraq and to help move this political process forward."


Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

26 September 2003
Straw pays tribute to murdered Iraqi council member
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has praised murdered Iraqi governing council member Dr Akila al Hashimi as a leading player in "the rebirth of Iraq". Dr Hashimi died earlier today following a gun attack near her home last week.
28 November 2005
First evidence heard in Saddam trial
The trial of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has heard the first prosecution evidence as his trial, on charges of crimes against humanity, resumed today.
25 January 2005
Senior Iraqi judge shot dead in Baghdad
A senior Iraqi judge has been assassinated in eastern Baghdad today as dissident groups step up a terror campaign prior to Sunday's elections in Iraq. Judge Qais Hashim Shameri and his son were killed in a gun attack as they left their home this morning. Initial police reports indicate that their driver was also wounded in the ambush.
11 May 2004
Girl (8) among Iraqi civilians killed by UK troops: report
An eight-year-old girl is among a number of Iraqi civilians who have been killed in disputed circumstances by British forces in southern Iraq, an Amnesty International report has alleged.
12 December 2003
Coalition strategy led to hundreds of Iraqi civilian deaths: report
Hundreds of civilian deaths could have been avoided during the US-led invasion of Iraq had the military not used cluster bombs and indulged in opportunistic decapitation strikes against regime leaders, according to the UN's Human Rights Watch.