Iraqi National Conference Looks To Reconciliation
Iraqi National Conference looks to 'reconciliation and peace'
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has welcomed the Iraqi National Conference as a 'vitally important stage' in building the country's political future.
The National Conference brings together around 1,000 representatives from across Iraq's religious, ethnic and social spectrum to discuss the future of the country.
The Iraqi people, helped by the United Nations, designed the conference as part of the political process. The process will lead to free and fair elections and a fully representative, democratically elected government.
Mr Straw said such a gathering would never have happened under the previous regime.
"The delegates are holding wide-ranging discussions including on security, politics and reconstruction of Iraq," he said.
"They will not be intimidated by extremist violence. Most importantly they are due to select a 100-member council which will hold the Interim Iraqi Government to account until the first set of elections take place in early 2005."
Mr Straw said he was under no illusion that Iraq still has a long way to go.
"It is clear that the wounds are deep, and security
problems will continue. But the National Conference is a
significant step along the road to reconciliation and a
peaceful future for all Iraqis."