Wednesday, August 15, 2007


U.N. to hold talks with armed groups

(Azzaman) - The United Nations intends to include all parties and factions in the talks it is going to hold to bring about national reconciliation in the country, Iraq U.N. spokesman said. Saaeed Arikat said the talks will involve armed groups currently fighting U.S. troops and the Iraqi government.
He did not reveal whether U.N.’s desire to conduct comprehensive talks with the political factions represented in parliament and those opposing the government would include groups with links to al-Qaeda organization. Iraq-linked Qaeda is better organized and equipped than any other group fighting U.S. occupation troops in Iraq. U.S. tactics to mobilize tribes to oust it from their areas have so far failed in containing its influence. Al Qaeda is responsible for most suicide bombings and attacks targeting U.S. invaders and Iraqi troops and security forces.
The Security Council unanimously approved a resolution on August 10 expanding the U.N.’s role in Iraq in a move aimed at reconciling the country’s rival groups, winning support from neighboring countries and tackling Iraq’s humanitarian crisis. The resolution authorizes the U.N. at the request of the Iraqi government to promote political talks among the country’s ethnic and religious groups and a regional dialogue on issues including border security, energy and refugees.
Arikat said the world body would seek to reach out to all the forces which could play a role in reconciling and rebuilding the country. “The U.N. is not concerned with what America wants from the resolution. We as an international organization will work to fulfill Iraqi ambitions and cooperate with the government,” he said.
Asked whether the U.N. will negotiate with the country’s armed groups, he said: “The U.N. will get in touch with political formations in the hope of reaching joint political agreements bringing the country’s disparate groups together.” The U.N., like the U.S. and Iraqi government, currently operates from the heavily fortified Green Zone but has two other offices in the country one in Arbil in the north and the other in Basra in the south.
Arikat said the U.N. had not forgotten Iraq despite the difficulties involved in operating there. “The U.N. has offered big sacrifices to help the Iraqi people,” he said. Former Secretary General Kofi Annan pull all U.N. international staff out of Iraq after the top U.N. envoy, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and 21 other people died in a huge explosion at the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad in 2003.
The new resolution points out the importance of armed protection by mainly U.S. forces for an enhanced U.N. team on the ground but analysts warn the presence of U.S. troops may complicate U.N. operations and make the staff an easy target for anti-U.S. rebels.

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