U.N. Security Council Endorses Brahimi's Mission to Iraq

United Nations -- The Security Council March 24 adopted a statement strongly supporting the new U.N. mission headed by special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to help Iraq form an interim government and prepare for elections. In a statement read at a formal public meeting, the Security Council said it "welcomes and strongly supports the secretary general's decision to dispatch to Iraq his special adviser, Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, and his team, as well as an electoral assistance team, as soon as possible, in order to lend assistance and advice to the Iraqi people in the formation of an interim Iraqi government to which sovereignty will be transferred on 30 June 2004, as well as in the preparations for direct elections to be held before the end of January 2005." The council also called on "all parties in Iraq to cooperate fully with these United Nations teams" and welcomed "the security and other support provided to them by the Iraqi Governing Council and the CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority)." The mission consists of two separate teams: a political team that will be under the direction of Brahimi and an electoral team that will be headed by Carina Pirelli. The mission will work with the Governing Council and others in Iraq to help in the formation of an interim government, which will take over from the CPA June 30 and will prepare Iraq for direct elections. The United Nations will not release the departure dates of the teams for security reasons. U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said that the Security Council's statement "is very important in terms of welcoming and encouraging the efforts of both Ambassador Brahimi and the election experts to go back to Iraq to help facilitate the transitional political process." "It strengthens their mandate to go back and carry out that work," the ambassador said. Negroponte, who is the chief U.S. representative to the United Nations, also said that the CPA "has been in the closest contact on the ground and in the region with the United Nations to ensure all steps are taken to ensure the security of the teams." "Iraq is not a risk-free environment," the ambassador said. "There have been incidents ... but we have assured the United Nations that we will take every possible step to facilitate the protection of their teams. And we're working very, very closely on that with them both in Iraq, in the region, and here in U.N. headquarters."

By Judy Aita Washington File United Nations Correspondent

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