Iraq

U.N. backs writing constitution in Iraq: envoy

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Baghdad (dpa) - The United Nations stressed its support Friday for the drafting of Iraq's constitution to take place in Iraq and pledged to set up a consultancy office in Baghdad to assist in the process.

"The U.N. will play a legal role and will back up the Iraqi National Assembly in drafting the constitution,'' U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's envoy Ashraf Qadi was quoted by local Iraqi television as saying.

"The role of the U.N. in drafting the constitution lies in helping Iraqis and setting up an office of specialized international lawyers,'' Qadi said.

Qadi met Thursday with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani over measures needed to write the constitution besides the need for all sections of Iraqi society to take part in the process.

The Iraqi National Assembly had selected 51 deputies, mostly Shiites and Kurds, to form a committee to write the constitution.

A meeting of Sunni Arabs held last Wednesday demanded the inclusion of 25 Sunni Arabs in the drafting committee arguing that such a demand "is a national rather than electoral right for the Sunni Arabs''.

The writing of the constitution is expected to be completed by mid-August, after which it is scheduled to be presented for a public referendum. dpa sj wjh

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