The panel of 15 also expressed "its intention to review the mandate in 12 months or sooner if requested by the government of Iraq."
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a report to the council last week, recommended the extension, saying the world organization "stands ready to do everything possible to support and contribute to an Iraqi-led and Iraqi-owned process."
However, because of the security situation, the United Nations has been blocked from any sizable presence. Small contingents have gone in to assess security and assist in the electoral process. Annan's new Special Representative Ashraf Jehangir Qazi of Pakistan is enroute to Baghdad with a small entourage to take up residence.
All this comes on the eve of Iraq's planned "big tent" national conference Sunday and the first anniversary next Thursday of the terrorist truck bombing of the U.N.'s Baghdad headquarters in which 22 people were killed, including the last special representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello. Soon after, the U.N. evacuated international staff from Iraq.