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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN envoy to visit Iraq in two weeks for talks on broader role, official says

19 October 2007 The new United Nations envoy for Iraq will travel to the country in two weeks for talks on a broader role for the world body there, a senior UN official told the Security Council today.

Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe presented the Council with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on Iraq, echoing the UN leader’s assertion that “there is an opportunity today that should not be missed” for transforming recent positive developments – including the ceasefire declared by the Mahdi Army and the Sunni insurgent alliance against Al-Qaida – into a basis for achieving national reconciliation.

In August, the Council adopted resolution 1770 expanding the UN’s role in Iraq, including in support of a national dialogue. Mr. Pascoe said the Secretary-General’s new Special Representative, Staffan de Mistura, will immediately explore possibilities toward that end “when he reaches Iraq in two weeks.”

Mr. Pascoe confirmed that the ceiling for international civilian staff in Baghdad has been raised from 65 to 85, adding that the number of staff authorized for the northern city of Erbil has risen from 29 to 35. In addition, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) has “adopted an area-based approach that expands activities where circumstances are more permissible.”

The Under-Secretary-General also issued a strong appeal for Member States to support the UN’s efforts. “Importantly, the United Nations must be afforded the necessary political and humanitarian space to implement the new mandate and the ability of the Organization to talk with all sides must be protected and respected,” he said.

“Security arrangements and financial and logistical backing are also essential for the success of the UN Mission in Iraq,” he added.

Mr. Pascoe voiced gratitude to countries now supporting the UN’s work in Iraq while urging States to provide additional resources for the mission. He pointed out that a trust fund established to support the ‘Distinct Entity’ that provides protection for the UN will be exhausted next month, while needs are clear “at least through 2008.”

He warned that, without an immediate infusion of funds, “the ability of the UN to operate in Iraq could be severely compromised.”

The magnitude of the challenges facing Iraq call for an international response which the UN is well-placed to meet, he said. “It is our belief that the new UN mandate, matched by strong international support, provides the necessary framework to move toward building a more stable Iraq.”

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