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UN Constitution-Drafting Deadline Nears

Iraq: Envoy, Council Discuss UN Support As Constitution-Drafting Deadline Nears

With the 15 August deadline to complete Iraq's draft constitution fast-approaching, the senior United Nations envoy in Baghdad and the Security Council in New York today held discussions on ways the world body can support the country's ongoing political transition, including planned elections.

In Baghdad, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, met with Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Ja'afari, to discuss the constitution, UN support for elections and the current political situation, according to a UN spokesman.

Mr. Qazi also updated the Prime Minister on the activities of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), which was the main focus of a closed-door briefing held by the Security Council in New York.

The Secretary-General, in a recent letter, recommended that the Council extend the mandate of that Mission, which expires this Friday, by another 12 months. A draft resolution on the mandate extension was circulated in the Council today.

Speaking to the press after the meeting, Kenzo Oshima of Japan, which holds the 15-nation body's rotating presidency for the month of August, said that the members had been "comprehensively" briefed on UNAMIS, as well as on political, humanitarian and human rights issues, by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Tuliameni Kalomoh.

"The Council noted that the Iraqi constitution-drafting process was progressing and stressed its strong hope that the 15 August deadline will be met," he said, adding that the members had also reaffirmed their support for the process as well as the ongoing political transition in the country.

Responding to a question, Ambassador Oshima acknowledged that the exercise was occurring under difficult conditions and that there were some remaining differences among the broad spectrum of negotiators. Nevertheless, the Council had received reports of a "good spirit of compromise," and was hopeful that in this final week, all efforts would be deployed to overcome those differences.

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