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Iraqi Foreign Minister Briefs UN Security Council

Security Council Hears Briefing By New Iraqi Foreign Minister

The new Foreign Minister of Iraq today urged the United Nations Security Council to adopt a resolution underlining the transfer of sovereignty back to the country's people and their representatives.

Hoshyar Zebari welcomed the draft sponsored by the United States and the United Kingdom currently in circulation while outlining amendments that he said should be added.

The new text must mark a clear departure from previous Council resolutions that legitimized the occupation of Iraq, he said. "By removing the label of occupation we will deprive the terrorists and anti-democratic forces of a rallying point to foment violence in our country."

The resolution must endorse a "genuine and comprehensive" transfer or power on 30 June. "This means investing full authority in the interim government to run Iraq's affairs, make its own decisions and have authority over Iraq's security matters."

He added that Iraq must have full control over its resources and assets.

On broader security questions, he stressed that Iraq still needed the assistance of multinational troops to work closely with Iraqi forces to stabilize the situation. "Any premature departure of international troops would lead to chaos and the real possibility of a civil war in Iraq," he warned. "This would cause a humanitarian crisis and provide a foothold for terrorists to launch their evil campaign in our country and beyond our borders."

Hailing the recent political progress in Iraq, he pledged continued advancement towards elections in 2005. "Only by following this course will we preserve Iraq's territorial integrity and unity and realize a peaceful and prosperous country for our people," he said.

Numerous Council members participating in the debate that followed hailed the new interim administration and pledged support for Iraq's political transition. Many backed the Foreign Minister's call for the adoption of a resolution underscoring Iraq's full sovereignty. Participants also said the text should clarify the relationship between Iraq's new Government and the multinational forces operating in the country.

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