Thu, Jul 24, 2003 - Page 7 News List

Iraq's Governing Council visits UN

IMPORTANT STEP The US-appointed representative body made its debut before the Security Council, a move that won it a measure of international credibility


Iraq's new Governing Council sought international credibility through its first appearance before the UN Security Council and won a measure of it but not the most tangible prize -- a seat at the UN.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the Governing Council's formation is "an important first step toward the full restoration of Iraqi sovereignty."

The UN special representative to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, called the US-appointed council "broadly representative of the various constituencies in Iraq."

But the Governing Council's attempt to take over Iraq's UN seat on Tuesday was derailed by "the reservations of some of our neighbors," said Ahmad Chalabi, one of three delegates from the Governing Council.

He did not specify which countries were involved.

A source close to the delegation pointed to Syria, a member of the Security Council, as part of the problem.

Syria's UN ambassador, Mikhail Wehbe, told the Security Council that his government is "genuinely concerned for Iraq's future, independence and territorial integrity" and called for a swift end to Iraq's occupation by US and British forces.

The Governing Council's "primary goal is to shorten the duration of the interim administration," said Adnan Pachachi, who spoke for the Iraqi delegation.

He said the council will help establish a constitutional congress "representing all political, religious and social groups" that will draft a constitution and pave the way for elections.

Iraq's 25-member council was appointed on July 13 by the US and British-run Coalition Provisional Authority after meetings with leaders of Iraq's Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and other groups.

John Negroponte, the US ambassador, told the Security Council that the Iraqi people have made "tremendous progress on the challenging transition to democracy." He also pledged that the US would implement UN goals for rebuilding Iraq "in a transparent manner."

Negroponte called the security situation in Iraq "unquestionably complex." Coalition forces, which face multiple daily attacks, are reestablishing Iraqi police forces and training a new Iraqi army, he said.

Vieira de Mello, the UN representative, said he didn't think the security situation was improving in the triangle north and west from Baghdad, although he noted that both northern and southern Iraq remained peaceful.

Pachachi said the Governing Council was taking on Iraq's major problems by employing at least 30,000 police, opening 1,500 schools and clinics, paying back salaries to government employees and retraining more than 200,000 demobilized soldiers.

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