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American Forces Press Service

Envoy Would Like a 'Cross-ethnic' Iraq Government

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, Dec. 20, 2005 – The U.S. ambassador to Iraq envisions "an Iraq that works" - a country on a path to increase democracy, and one that will respect the rights of all in the country.

At a news conference here today, Zalmay Khalilzhad said he wants an increasingly prosperous Iraq that poses no threat to its neighbors, and serves as an example to the region of the power of democracy.

The ambassador said it's too early to talk "definitively" about the results of the Dec. 15 election, but it appeared "as if people preferred to vote their ethnic or sectarian identity." He said cross-ethnic and cross-sectarian cooperation will be necessary for the country to succeed.

Still, it appears that around 70 percent of eligible voters participated in the election, and "all communities participated, and that was important," he said. "What is needed is to wait for the results, and then for the principal groups to seek to form a broad-based national unity government - a cross-ethnic government that will emphasize effectiveness and competence."

He said he would like to see a government that brings Iraqis together. With that in mind, he said, he already has begun discussions with Iraqi leaders "to encourage them in this direction, and we will be able to help if our help is needed," he said.

Embassy officials said they would like Iraqi leaders to speed the process. One official said the country did not capitalize on the success of the January elections, taking too long to form the transitional national assembly. "They lost momentum," the official said. "We would like to see things move somewhat faster (this time)."

Khalilzhad said Iraqi leaders can take the circumstances of the country and follow the formula that other successful countries have followed. "The stakes are huge for the people of Iraq, for the future of the region and, of course, for us - we have a lot of American blood and treasure spent here, and I think it is about the future of the world," he said.


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