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UN Chief Welcomes ‘Genuine Efforts’ To Stabilize Iraq January 11, 2007

Posted by notapundit in World News.
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UNITED NATIONS (AP)–The United Nations welcomes “genuine efforts” to improve security for ordinary Iraqis and stabilize the country, the new U.N. secretary-general said Thursday.

Ban Ki-moon did not respond directly to a question seeking reaction to U.S. President George W. Bush’s announcement Wednesday night that he was increasing U.S. troops by 21,500 to disarm militias and quell the country’s near-anarchy.

“Broadly speaking, however, the United Nations would welcome genuine efforts to improve security for ordinary Iraqis as well as to stabilize the country through a combination of security, political and economic means,” Ban told his first news conference since becoming the U.N. chief on Jan. 1.

Pressed on whether the U.N. supported the disarming of militias, he said, “it’s very worrisome and we are very much concerned about this continuing… violence, so we hope that the Iraqi government will take necessary measures to ensure their own political and social security, stability.”

The United Nations “will be closely consulting with the Iraqi government and other key stakeholders to discuss how best to support such efforts to stabilize peace and stability in Iraq,” he said.

Former Secretary-General Kofi Annan withdrew the U.N.’s international staff from Iraq in 2003 following two attacks on U.N. offices in Baghdad and a spate of attacks on humanitarian workers. The first attack killed the top U.N. envoy in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and 21 others.

U.N. international staffers started returning in August 2004 and U.N. experts played key roles in helping Iraqis draft a new constitution and prepare for elections, but the numbers are limited because of increasing insecurity, especially in Baghdad.

When asked about increasing the U.N. staff, Ban noted the U.N. constitutional and electoral efforts and said: “We will continue to participate in that process as much as we can, but our participation and contribution at this time is largely dictated by the security situation on the ground.”

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