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US invites UN to expand security forces for Iraq

US invites UN members to help expand security forces for Iraq

19 May 2004 – The United States called on United Nations Member States today to help provide a special protective force for UN personnel returning to Iraq to assist with preparations for future elections.

"We must expand international security forces to support the return of United Nations international personnel to Iraq," the US Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador James Cunningham, told the Security Council in the last periodic briefing on Iraq by the US-led coalition before sovereignty is returned at the end of June.

"We are working to establish a unit within the MNF (Multinational Force) under unified command to provide dedicated security for United Nations personnel and facilities in Iraq," he said. "The ability of the United Nations to continue its vital role in assisting Iraqis to prepare for elections depends on its security. We urge the international community to participate in this important task."

More than 210,000 Iraqis already serve in the Iraqi security force, but their response has been uneven and their quality and leadership are being improved, he said.

Meanwhile, "we expect that violent elements will make a concerted effort to disrupt the transition and destabilize Iraq as we approach June 30," he said. "Faced with the violent elements I have just described, continued MNF operations after June 30 will be necessary to ensure Iraq's security and progress in its political transition."

The past month has been particularly difficult, Mr. Cunningham said, with the MNF having to go on the offensive against "former regime element and foreign terrorists in Fallujah and Ramadi."

The American justice system was moving swiftly to address the abuses of Iraqis imprisoned in Abu Ghraib that "stain the honour and reputation of the United States," he said. He noted that President George W. Bush had condemned and apologized for the abuses, two officers had been relieved of command and the first of seven trials of military personnel took place today.

The Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom, Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, said British military personnel operated strictly in accordance with the Geneva Conventions and international law, and any form of abuse was unacceptable. Britain was conducting 33 investigations of the Royal Military Police.

Reviewing the practical progress made in Iraq, he told the Council that already 11 government ministries had been restored to Iraqi control.

Oil revenues were due to rise to $28 billion next year from $18 billion this year, leading the Ministry of Finance to revise its 2004 budget, Mr. Jones Parry said.

ENDS

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