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Annan, Foreign Ministers Urge Inclusive Vote In Iraq

23 November 2004 -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and foreign ministers attending a conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, called for Iraq to ensure widespread participation in upcoming elections.

Annan said it is critically important for the National Assembly elections scheduled for 30 January to be held "in a conducive environment."

"Every effort must be made to provide incentives for the various Iraqi groups to participate in a national reconciliation process, one based on dialogue and the willingness to reach out and address legitimate concerns and grievances," Annan said.

Egypt's foreign minister said Iraq's leadership should make sure that all "reasonable" parties take part in the elections. The foreign ministers from Syria and Germany made similar appeals.

Iran's foreign minister also urged a halt to U.S.-led assaults on rebellious cities and to acts of terrorism, and the Arab League chief called for a ceasefire in Iraq

Yesterday, some delegations said it may be better to delay Iraqi elections to ensure full participation. Several Sunni Arab groups have threatened to boycott the polls.