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U.N. calls for urgent dialogue in Iraq

Dec. 17, 2012 at 2:09 PM

BAGHDAD, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- All parties interested in a peaceful Iraq are called on to work together to prevent security from deteriorating further, a U.N. envoy said Monday.

A string of attacks across the country Sunday left at least 19 people dead and more than 75 injured. The U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq reported at least 25 people were killed in Monday attacks near Mosul and Kirkuk in Iraq's north.

Control over the oil-rich city is a matter of contention between the Kurdish and Iraqi central governments. Clashes between Kurdish forces, called Peshmerga, and federal troops erupted in November in and around Kirkuk province and the so-called disputed territories.

Martin Kobler, U.N. special envoy to Iraq and head of the peacekeeping mission there, called for an urgent national dialogue.

"I call on all parties to engage in inclusive dialogue and to urgently work on defusing the situation to prevent an escalation," he said in a statement. "The United Nations stands ready to facilitate if requested to do so."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Iraqi leaders early this month. He warned that unresolved internal divisions in Iraq threaten to reverse security gains made in recent years.

Ban said divisions among Shiites, Sunnis and ethnic Kurds was a "disservice to the people of Iraq, who look to their leaders to deliver a better future."

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