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New Iraqi Government Marks New Start, Annan

Announcement Of New Iraqi Government Marks New Start, Annan Says

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today hailed the announcement of Iraq's interim government as "a new beginning," while calling for continued vigilance about the country's security situation.

Speaking to reporters at UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Annan observed that much effort is still required to meet the challenges of the coming political transition. "Now that the new government is installed, we all need to look forward and work for the handover of sovereignty and power to the Iraqis on 30 June."

Meanwhile the UN Security Council today scheduled closed-door talks on a new resolution concerning Iraq.

Commenting on the consultations, the Secretary-General said, "My sense is that most Council members are determined to ensure that Iraq gets full sovereignty."

Asked about the manner in which the members of the government were named, the Secretary-General noted that the Prime Minister Designate, Ayad Allawi, had been on a list of possible leaders compiled by UN Special Advisor Lakhdar Brahimi. The cabinet selected by Mr. Allawi was also drawn from that list.

Mr. Annan also acknowledged that "the process wasn't perfect," but stressed that it constituted progress.

"It was never intended that the UN would go and appoint and impose a government on the Iraqis," he pointed out. "We had to discuss it with them, and given the circumstances and the factors on the ground, it is not surprising that you have a mix of people from the Governing Council and from outside who are forming the new government."

The Secretary-General voiced concern over persistent bloodshed in Iraq. "I have no reason to believe that it is going to stop because a government has been designated," he said.

"I have indicated in my discussions with heads of State, including with President Bush this morning, and also with others that we need to try and bring the violence down because that's also going to be crucial, not just for the elections, not just for reconstruction, but for the average Iraqi to go about his [business]," he added.

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