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Middle east

UN chief on surprise visit to Baghdad

Latest update : 2009-02-06

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) is on an unannounced visit to Baghdad meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki a day after election results showed the Iraqi premier's coalition registered a victory in provincial elections.

Reuters - United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was in Baghdad for talks with Iraqi officials on Friday, almost a week after the country held its most peaceful election since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, officials said.
Ban's unannounced visit followed a trip to Afghanistan, another battlefield in the U.S. war on terrorism launched by former President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11 attacks, and to India and Pakistan.
Ban was expected to meet Iraqi officials to discuss last Saturday's provincial election and other issues as Iraq begins to emerge from years of sectarian bloodshed and insurgency unleashed by the invasion.
The United Nations operates under heavy security and maintains a relatively low profile in Iraq, a legacy of the truck bomb that destroyed its Baghdad headquarters in August 2003, killing then U.N. envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello and other U.N. workers.
But it played a big role in helping to organise the Jan. 31 regional elections, which did not witness a single major militant attack anywhere in the country.
Preliminary results released on Thursday showed that allies of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki scored spectacular gains across Iraq's Shi'ite Muslim south.
Elsewhere in the country, once dominant Sunni Arabs who boycotted Iraq's last local polls in 2005 regained political power in areas where their exclusion from local politics had fuelled resentment and a lingering insurgency.


Date created : 2009-02-06