Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iraq: head of UN election team calls mission successful and promising

19 February 2004 The head of a United Nations team studying the feasibility of elections in Iraq before the transfer of sovereignty from the United States-led occupation authorities by 30 June today described his mission as successful and promising.

"The Iraqis have a lot of confidence in the United Nations and I am sure the United Nations will try and help," Special Adviser Lakhdar Brahimi told reporters as he arrived at UN Headquarters in New York to report to Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Asked how he would evaluate his mission, Mr. Brahimi said: "It was successful considering that we were there only one week, considering that we've been away for a very long time, considering that a lot of things are happening, not all of it very good." "Nevertheless," he added, "I think it is promising."

He said he had had a very good meeting with Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who has called for direct elections before the transfer deadline.

"I think he, like everybody else, realizes that the United Nations has no agenda except to help them and that if we tell them something it is because we strongly believe it is in the interests of Iraq," he replied when asked if he through Mr. al-Sistani and other leaders would listen to his recommendations.

Mr. Annan is scheduled to meet today with several countries interested in the Iraq situation to share ideas about the matter.

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