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Annan Pledges Support To Stabilize Iraq

Hailing New Opportunity To Stabilize Iraq, Annan Pledges Un's Support

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, currently travelling in the Middle East, today hailed the restoration of Iraq's sovereignty as a chance to reconstruct the war-ravaged nation and pledged the full support of the United Nations in this endeavour.

"I think the Iraqis have an opportunity to stabilize their country," Mr. Annan told reporters this morning in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. "I hope that they will use this important step as an opportunity to come together, in dialogue, and reconcile, and try and bring everybody under the tent."

He looked forward to Iraq's upcoming national conference as "an opportunity to pull the nation together" and voiced confidence that the Interim Administration would succeed in running the country. "They're going to need help on security, but they should focus on security to bring law and order, so that the average Iraqi can go about their business and reconstruction can proceed, and elections can go forward next January," he said.

"What is important is that the new interim Iraqi Government is given the space and opportunity to establish itself to be credible," he said.

With the general support of the people, the region and the Security Council, he added, "they do have the chance to make a good start."

For its part, the UN would extend its full support, he said. "We are prepared to do whatever we can to assist the Iraqi people, particularly through the transition process and the constitutional process and the elections next year."

Later, in Doha, Qatar, the Secretary-General said the issue was expected to come up in talks with the country's officials. "I'm sure we'll discuss the situation in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," he said.

On the UN's return to Iraq, he cautioned that conditions must be safe. "We are monitoring the security situation; and of course security is essential, not just for the UN staff but for the average Iraqi, for reconstruction, for all the wonderf Iraq," he said. "And therefore one of the key issues is to create a secure environment so that all these things can happen."

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