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Straw gives Iraq and Middle East update


Straw gives Iraq and Middle East update

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has updated MPs on recent events in Iraq and the Middle East.

He described the political progress made in Iraq and the success of military operations against remaining elements of Saddam Hussein's regime, but also outlined the "series of atrocities" which has overshadowed these positive developments.

In spite of the attacks, Mr Straw emphasised that '"we will not be deterred from our overall goal: to hand sovereignty to the Iraqi people as quickly as possible in conditions where they can build a secure and prosperous country". He spoke about the deployment of further troops to the region and the urgent action being taken to build Iraq's own security forces.

Mr Straw also set out the central elements of the draft Resolution on Iraq, currently under discussion at the United Nations Security Council, which would strengthen the UN's mandate in the country. The aims of the resolution are to:

Reaffirm the UN's support for the work of the Iraqi Governing Council. It calls on the Council to submit a timetable and programme for drafting a new constitution for Iraq and for holding democratic elections

Propose a UN-mandated multinational force under existing unified command arrangements, which should facilitate the provision of troops by other countries

Call upon UN Member States to help the Iraqi people by providing resources for rehabilitation and reconstruction

On the Middle East Peace Process, Mr Straw expressed regret at the resignation of the Palestinian Prime Minister, Abu Mazen. But he said it "should not send the peace process back to square one. The Palestinian leadership must unite around a clear commitment to Roadmap implementation."

The responsibility of the international community, he said, is to do everything it can to hold both sides to their commitments under the Roadmap.

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