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Iraqi Foreign Minister Says U.N. Will Expand Role in Iraq


Foreign Minister Zebari told VOA that the U.N. Secretary General "responded very positively" to a request to open the U.N. offices in Erbil and Basra  and appoint a new representative to help prepare for elections in Iraq.

Washington, D.C., June 1, 2005 -- Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told the Voice of America (VOA) today that U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has agreed to expand the role of the United Nations in the Iraqi constitutional and political process.

Foreign Minister Zebari told VOA's Kurdish Service that, during his meeting with Mr. Annan Tuesday, the Secretary General "responded very positively" to a request to open the U.N. offices in Erbil and Basra and appoint a new representative to help prepare for elections in Iraq.

Foreign Minister Zebari said that the Iraqi government is committed to keeping the timetable for the drafting of a constitution and holding a ratification referendum to be followed by national elections.

Zebari also told VOA that, according to Secretary General Annan, the U.N. will participate in the European Union international conference on building political support for the new Iraqi government that will be held in Brussels on June 21 to 22.

On other issues, the Iraqi Foreign Minister said that he was successful in getting the U.N. Security Council to agree to prolong the deployment of the multinational force in Iraq and said that he would raise the same issue with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice during their upcoming meeting. Zebari also asked the U.N. to end the work of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, saying it is too expensive for the Iraqi people but is not performing any functions.

Zebari welcomed Wednesday's agreement between the KDP and PUK, the two leading parties in Iraqi Kurdistan, to form a common government and convene a regional parliament.

VOA broadcasts 4 hours of radio in Kurdish every day. The programs are transmitted on shortwave as well as through AM and FM stations. All are also available live and on demand at www.VOANews.com/Kurdish.

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 100 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages, including English.

For more information, call the Office of Public Affairs at (202) 401-7000, or E-Mail publicaffairs@voa.gov.

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