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Meetings with Iraqi leaders in run-up to elections

UN envoy holds intensive meetings with Iraqi leaders in run-up to elections

The United Nations special envoy for Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, has been holding intensive meetings with Iraqi leaders to identify specific mechanisms to improve the security and political environments in which Iraq's Independent Electoral Commission will hold elections next Sunday, the UN mission in Baghdad said today.

"In his separate meetings with President of the Independent Democratic Alliance Adnan Pachachi and the leading member of the United Iraqi Alliance and other political personalities and groupings contesting the polls, Mr. Qazi stressed the importance of unifying the efforts of all Iraqis in ensuring a smooth transitional process that would lead to the building of a democratic, stable and prosperous Iraq," the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) said.

Noting the UN's leading role in providing the commission with technical support, strategic advice and training, UNAMI said Mr. Qazi had repeated the UN's commitment to assisting the Iraqis "through these challenging times," including in drafting a permanent constitution after the 30 January elections and in preparing the subsequent elections for a permanent government by the end of the year.

Last week, during a visit to Syria, Mr. Qazi called for greater efforts to reach out to "Arab nationalists," especially the minority Sunni Muslims who have been ruling the predominantly Shiite Muslim country and who have voiced reservations about the polling process.

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