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US Wants Multinational Force To Protect UN In Iraq

US Ambassador Urges New Multinational Force To Protect UN In Iraq

Voicing hope that the United Nations would return its personnel to Iraq to help with the transition to sovereignty, the United States Ambassador today suggested the establishment a new multinational force dedicated to protecting the UN in the war-wracked country.

"With the support of the United Nations, the United States has begun to solicit force contributions for the protection of a broad-based UN mission whose role will be further defined by Security Council action," Ambassador John D. Negroponte said, stressing that the troops would be dedicated solely to providing security for UN personnel and facilities.

"I believe that I do not overstate the broad desire within the international community for the United Nations to return to Iraq to play an expansive, robust and vital role, in particular after the June 30 transition" to Iraqi sovereignty, he said in an open briefing to the Security Council, urging countries to contribute troops for the effort.

His briefing also touched on the deadly clashes in recent days, which he said included ambush and mutilation, riots and attacks perpetrated by insurgents, terrorists who have infiltrated Iraq, and militias affiliated with radical elements. "The violence has been terrible, and the losses great," he said.

He said the current multinational force (MNF) has continued to recruit, train and equip Iraqi security forces in preparation for their assuming responsibility for maintaining security and enforcing the rule of law. Currently, there are some 200,000 Iraqi security forces either on duty or in training.

The Iraqi Civil Defence Corps, now totalling approximately 32,000, is designed to support police efforts, he said. The Iraqi Police Service has over 75,000 officers on duty or in training. The Facilities Protection Service, charged with protecting Iraq's strategic infrastructure, government buildings and cultural and educational assets, has increased to approximately 74,000 personnel overall. The Iraqi Armed Forces have nearly 4,000 personnel, while there are approximately 23,000 Iraqi border police and immigration and customs inspectors now working.

Ambassador Negroponte said the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) has achieved some progress in ensuring the transition and reintegration of all armed organizations not under government control. But, he warned, "we will have no choice but to deal firmly with those who refuse to negotiate."

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