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UN: Al-Sistani Welcomes UN Democracy Proposals For Iraq

United Nations, 11 May 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The United Nations said today that Iraq's most influential Shi'ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has voiced his support for United Nations proposals for a democratic transition in Iraq.

UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said the proposals were transmitted in meetings held in Iraq between the UN envoy for Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, and Iraqi officials, including Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, a member of Iraq's Governing Council, who then passed them on to al-Sistani.

Eckhard said al-Hakim told Brahimi that al-Sistani was "pleased and found the proposals balanced and positive." Eckhard said Brahimi and Iraqi officials spoke about "various aspects of the transition."

Eckhard said ideas for convening a National Conference to debate programs for national reconciliation were also discussed.

Brahimi, a special adviser on Iraq for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, has been working on a plan for the democratic transition in Iraq.