Iraq

UN chief says studying bigger Iraq presence-paper

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VALENCIA, Spain, June 3 (Reuters) - United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is looking at ways to boost the U.N. presence in Iraq, he was quoted as saying on Sunday, following calls for the world body to step up its operations there.

In an interview with the Spanish newspaper ABC, Ban said he hoped amendments being made to Iraq's constitution would allow the country to return to law and order, and said the government must involve different leaders in the country's politics.

"The U.N. has played a very important, constructive role in helping Iraqis in the government," Ban was quoted as saying.

"Our activity has been very constrained by the situation on the ground, but after I went to Iraq and saw the situation for myself I am now thinking about how we can make other contributions to increase our presence there," he added.

Last month, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, told Reuters the organisation should expand its operations in Iraq both by trying to reconcile groups within the country and by involving Baghdad's neighbours.

Many U.N. Security Council member states strongly opposed the war in Iraq and many U.N. officials are wary of fielding more staff in Baghdad, where 23 of their top people were killed by a bomb blast in August 2003.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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