Thursday, September 06, 2007


Swede is named new U.N. envoy to Iraq

(AP) -- Staffan de Mistura, a Swede who has worked at the U.N. for 30 years, was appointed Wednesday as the new U.N. envoy to Iraq.De Mistura, who has served as the U.N.'s deputy envoy to Iraq since 2005, replaces Pakistani diplomat Ashraf Qazi, who was named Tuesday as the top U.N. representative to Sudan. Both of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's appointments must still be approved by the Security Council.
Qazi, a respected Pakistani diplomat who has served in key posts around the world including in Washington, has been the top U.N. envoy in Iraq since July 2004. He replaced Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was one of 22 people killed in the Aug. 19, 2003, bombing at U.N. headquarters in Baghdad. After the bombing then-Secretary-General Kofi Annan pulled all international U.N. staff out of Iraq, but he allowed a small contingent to return to Baghdad in August 2004. The number of staff has remained low since then - currently 65 - because of security concerns.
Last month, the Security Council voted unanimously to expand the U.N. role in Iraq, opening the door for the world body to promote talks to ease Iraq's sectarian bloodshed. Ban said at the time the U.N. "cannot shy away" from its responsibility to help Iraq, but he added that staff security will remain "a paramount concern." He urged the General Assembly to approve additional funds for secure housing for U.N. staff in Baghdad.
De Mistura, who speaks seven languages including Arabic, has spent three decades working at the U.N., mainly in humanitarian operations. Prior to becoming deputy envoy to Iraq, he served as U.N. envoy to southern Lebanon. He is also the director of the U.N. Staff College in Turin, Italy.

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