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US backs call for expanded UN role in Iraq

The United States backs UN chief Ban Ki-moon's call for an expanded role for the world body in Iraq to help the strife-torn country become a "force for moderation in the region," its envoy to the UN said Friday.

"The United States endorses Mr. Ban's call for an expanded United Nations role in Iraq to help Iraq become a peaceful, stable country -- one that will be a peaceful, stable partner in the international community and a force for moderation in the region," Zalmay Khalilzad wrote in Friday's New York Times.

Khalilzad, who served as US ambassador to Iraq from 2005 to last April, highlighted Ban's comments after a White House meeting with US President George W. Bush Tuesday that the UN is ready to assist the Iraqi government and people.

And he noted that the world body was soon to appoint a new special UN envoy for Iraq to replace Ashraf Jehangir Qazi and the Security Council to renew the mandate of the UN mission in Baghdad.

Khalilzad said the new UN envoy should have a mandate to help Iraqis complete work on a range of issues, including legislation on the distribution of oil revenues, reform of the controversial de-Baathification law, demobilization of militias and a deal for insurgents to give up their armed struggle.

Under the debaathification law, tens of thousands of members of Iraq's former ruling Baath party were stripped of their positions in government, universities and companies after the 2003 US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein.

The law has been a major source of grievance for the minority Sunnis, who have waged a deadly insurgency against US troops and the Shiite-led, American-backed government in Baghdad.

The new UN envoy should also be empowered to help resolve the status of Iraq's ethnically divided northern oil city of Kirkuk and disputed internal boundaries as well as prepare and monitor provincial elections, Khalilzad said.

"To do this work, the United Nations will need additional political, financial, logistical and security support from states with interests in the region," he said.

The US-led coalition "will need to maintain forces in Iraq to build on the initial positive security results of our new strategy in Iraq, and to work with the United Nations to ensure that the coalition's military strategy supports the internal and regional mediation efforts," he added. "The United States recognizes its responsibilities and is prepared to do its part."


US backs call for expanded UN role in Iraq -  Source

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