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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

15 September 2005

Iraq's President Talabani Pleads for Help in Fighting Terrorism

Tells U.N. Iraq wants to rebuild on "basis of human rights and democracy"

By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- Taking his place at the rostrum of the General Assembly hall September 15, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani asked the 60th Anniversary Summit of the United Nations to help his country defeat terrorism and rebuild "on the basis of human rights and democracy."

Speaking on the second day the summit in which over 150 presidents, prime ministers and monarchs are participating, Talabani said "you should know that rebuilding Iraq is the undoubted defeat of terrorism that has become a danger to humanity and to civilization.  We should also be sure that their actions put the international family before an uncertain future."

"Iraq is not hesitant to openly and frankly say that we are in desperate need of your expertise, your investments, and your moral support for its efforts to fight terrorism and for administrative and legal measures to face dangerous problems such as drugs, homeless children, unemployment, poverty and child abduction, etcetera," he said.

World leaders are at the United Nations September 14-16 not only to mark the 60th anniversary of the world organization but also to adopt a document that will help revitalize the United Nations and lay out an agenda for tackling the problems of the 21st century.  Part of that compact is to help developing countries achieve goals in health, education and economic development.  It also creates a Peacebuilding Commission to help countries emerging from conflict and commits nations to fight terrorism.

Talabani said Iraq "is rich with lessons and results" from its struggle against Saddam Hussein's dictatorship which "turned development into fictitious structures and fabricated propaganda reports," committed genocide, launched wars against its neighbors and "wasted the wealth of the country."

Now Iraq "is determined to rebuild its present and future with patience, determination, and on the basis of human rights and democracy," he said.

The president pointed to the lesson of the Kurdish region in the north.  He said it has had successful development, a democratic parliamentarian system, rational investment of resources, and economic and political and cultural openness to the world since it achieve a large measure of autonomy from Saddam Hussein's regime in 1991 and was helped by the United Nations in a separate administration program of the Oil-for-Food program.

"It proves the fact that free and democratic people can set a model for development in every aspect," Talabani said, speaking for a brief time in Kurdish.

"Iraq has risen out of the ashes of dictatorship," he said, but is now facing "one of the most brutal campaigns of terror at the hands of the forces of darkness" which is killing hundreds of Iraqis, destroying their wealth and "trying their best to stop their march toward the just goals of rebuilding their country through building a constitutional and fair regime."

Terrorists are trying to annihilate innocent civilians and want to make Iraq an international center for terrorism, the president said.

"Now, we are opening our arms to the world today with the hope that the world understands the value and the importance of Iraq's experience in fighting terrorism and its rejection of the terrorists’ backward ideology," Talabani said.

"Iraq's war on terror requires diverse international help not only for the sake of Iraq but also for the sake of the whole world," Talabani said.  Thus, Iraq has "the right to look toward its friends in the international community."

The president asked the international community and international financial institutions to write off Iraq's debts, review current compensation programs and provide economic expertise to help his country avoid the negative effects of moving toward a market economy.  Development also needs "investors with multiple resources," he said.

In 2004, when Iraq participated in the General Assembly for the first time after the defeat of Saddam Hussein and the end of the occupation, then interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi also asked for help.  In the year since, the country has kept close to schedule for holding elections and drafting its constitution.  (See Iraq’s Political Process.)

But terrorism has escalated as coalition forces and newly trained Iraqi police and military have struggled to end the violence that has kept out investors and most international aid workers.

In his report to the Security Council on the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) released September 15, Secretary-General Kofi Annan also said that the international community has "an important role to play in actively assisting the government to meet the expectations of its people.  Regional countries and regional organizations bear a particular responsibility."

Despite severe security constraints, Annan said that the United Nations has been able to increase its presence in Iraq tenfold since it resumed operations in August 2004.  Nevertheless, he said, security is a matter of serious concern and will determine to a considerable extent the scope and scale of what the United Nations can achieve.

Annan also praised the Iraqi people for their "unprecedented debate" on key challenges facing their country despite difficult circumstances.  The writing of a new constitution has created "a historic opportunity to develop the institutions and practices that sustain democracy, promote the rule of law, and improve the living conditions and economic opportunities of all Iraqis," he said.

For information on U.S. activities at the United Nations, see The United Nations at 60.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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