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U.N.: Iraq may be headed down violent path

July 17, 2013 at 10:19 AM

UNITED NATIONS, July 17 (UPI) -- Iraq can either head toward the path of prosperity or descend into widespread political and sectarian conflict, the U.N. special envoy to Iraq said.

At least 40 people were killed in bomb and gun attacks across Iraq in weekend violence. The United Nations said at least 7,000 people were injured and another 3,000 were killed in similar attacks across the country in the first four months of 2013.

U.N. special envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler told the Security Council the country was at a critical juncture.

"[Iraq] can continue to make important strides in deepening the roots of democracy, pursuing reforms and embracing diversity as well as improving its stature in the international community or it can go down a dangerous path, foretold with political impasse and sectarian violence at each turn leading to increased instability," he said Tuesday.

Kobler welcomed Iraq's renewed diplomatic relationship with its neighbors and stressed the importance of ongoing dialogue between central government figures and those from the semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government.

"Fear, frustration, helplessness," however, were the dominant emotions expressed by Iraqis who grew up in the wake of the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, he said.

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