The Security Council's decision to maintain the mission of more than 1,000 troops, civilians, and security personnel came as Baghdad urged the UN to do more to facilitate its transition to democracy.
UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. Security Council
voted on Thursday to keep the United Nations mission in Iraq
for another year, as Baghdad urged the world body to do more to
help it transform into a functioning democracy.
Amid stalled provincial elections, Iraq's ambassador to the
United Nations said he would like the body to boost its
presence and clout. Part of the organization's task in Iraq, he
said, is to help sort out internal border disputes and aid
dialogue with neighboring countries.
"There is a lot to do," Hamid al-Bayati told reporters.
The five-year-old U.N. mission in Iraq, known as UNAMI, is
made up of more than 1,000 troops, civilian staff and security
personnel. Its mandate was beefed up a year ago to give the
body an expanded political role.
Extension of the mandate, due to expire Aug. 10, was
unanimously approved by the 15-nation Security Council.
"Today's unanimous support for the extension of mandate is
a recognition that what happened in Iraq is important for the
world," said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay
Khalilzad. "Everyone wants Iraq to succeed and for the U.N. to
play its role in helping Iraqis."
The resolution says security for U.N. staff in Iraq, where
insurgents continue to attack U.S.-led foreign troops, is
"essential." The U.N. mandate for international troops, which
currently provides security protection for the U.N. staff, is
set to expire in December.
Washington is negotiating a bilateral security agreement
with Iraq to cover the period once the mandate for foreign
troops expires and Bayati said an agreement was close on this.
U.N. officials have warned the United Nations is in the
crosshairs of some militants and extremists who no longer see
the world body as neutral.
Still fresh in the minds of diplomats and staff is a
truck-bomb attack which destroyed the U.N. office in Baghdad on
Aug. 19, 2003, killing 22 people. The blast led to a temporary
withdrawal of U.N. staff from Iraq.
But security has improved dramatically since that day,
Bayati said, adding that the government has also allocated a
parcel of land in Baghdad to the U.N. for a new base there.
"The Iraqi forces now are much stronger than then," Bayati
said. "They proved they are reliable."
Date created : 2008-08-08