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UN Urged To Increase Iraq Presence

14 December 2004 -- The interim Iraqi government and the United States have urged the United Nations to quickly increase its presence in Iraq to help the country prepare for the 30 January elections.

"We urge the UN to put additional personnel on the ground [in Iraq]," U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Danforth told reporters. "Additional UN support is essential to the future of Iraq and especially to the success of next month's elections."

The Iraqi ambassador to the UN, Samir Sumaidaie, accused the UN of using what he called the "mantra" of poor security to stay away from a larger commitment in Iraq.

The UN special envoy to Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, said it was valid for the UN to consider the Iraqi security environment.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has allowed only a small contingent of international staffers -- a limit of 35 -- to work in Iraq following the 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad and attacks on humanitarian workers.

At least seven Iraqis were killed yesterday in a suicide car bombing outside Baghdad's Green Zone compound, home to the interim Iraqi government and the U.S. Embassy.


For more on events in Iraq, see RFE/RL's dedicated The New Iraq webpage.