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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN envoy starts sixth week of talks to ensure wide participation in Iraqi transition

7 March 2005 The top United Nations envoy for Iraq today began his sixth week of talks with political, social and religious leaders from across the spectrum after elections in which very few Sunni Arabs voted, pursuing efforts to ensure that all sectors are included in the next phase of the country's transition, including writing a new constitution.

Secretary General Kofi Annan's Special Representative Ashraf Qazi today met with Sheikh Hareth Al Dhari, President of the Muslim Scholars Association, a Sunni group. He told reporters the talks were part of consultations he is holding with representatives of all political forces to discuss ways to advance the political process.

He said these consultations are in implementation of the UN mandate under Security Council Resolution 1546 to promote national dialogue and consensus within an all-inclusive political process.

By not voting in the 30 January elections for a transitional National Assembly, either due to boycott calls, intimidation or fear of violence, Sunni Arabs will have very little presence in the body entrusted with writing the new constitution. Shiite Arabs, who voted enthusiastically, represent about 60 per cent of the electorate, while Sunni Arabs and mainly Sunni Kurds, who also turned out en masse, represent about 20 per cent each.

Earlier today Mr. Qazi visited the headquarters of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party where he held similar talks with the party's President Muhsen Abdul Hamid.

In meetings he has been holding with Iraqi leaders from across the political spectrum ahead of the convening of the Transitional National Assembly, Mr. Qazi has also been discussing ways through which the UN can further contribute to the political process and encourage broader participation in political efforts to restore peace and stability to Iraq.

Mr. Qazi has assured all his interlocutors that the UN will continue to support Iraq through the transitional process. In addition to its efforts to promote national dialogue among the various components of the Iraqi society, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) has been coordinating international humanitarian aid to the country.

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