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Iraqi President Asks NATO And EU For Security Help

15 September 2004 -- Iraqi interim President Ghazi Ajil al-Yawir called on NATO and the European Union yesterday to do more to help stabilize the country ahead of elections.

Al-Yawir was in Brussels yesterday where he met with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

At the United Nations in New York, Iraq's UN representative Feisal Amin al-Istrabadi told the Security Council elections would go ahead as planned in January and said UN help was needed to prepare the poll.

UN's special envoy to Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, said the security situation remains the central challenge facing Iraq. "Serious differences within Iraqi society have yet to be politically and effectively addressed. The transfer of sovereignty to the interim government has not been accompanied by an improvement in the security situation. This is the central challenge facing Iraq today. The main victims of the violence in Iraq are Iraqi civilians. The climate of fear remains entrenched."

At least 69 people were killed in the latest fighting and bomb attacks yesterday in Iraq, including a massive car bomb in Baghdad that killed at least 47 people.

(international agencies)

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