UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad on Monday to discuss the security and political situation in Iraq. Their meeting followed a bloody Sunday that left 22 dead and 80 injured.
On his fifth trip to Iraq, the UN leader expressed concern about the deteriorating security situation and encouraged political unity and civic participation. The secretary-general spoke at a press conference about his meeting with the Iraqi prime minister and outlined the focus of their discussion.
"We reviewed the security and political situation in Iraq, the upcoming parliamentary elections, and the relationship between the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government, and the relations between Iraq and Kuwait. We also discussed the situation in Syria which the Prime Minister has just explained.
"We agreed that the challenges facing Iraq require all political leaders to fulfil their responsibilities to ensure social cohesion, dialogue and progress over political obstacles. The people of Iraq are looking to their leaders for tangible benefits and a better future. The upcoming parliamentary elections are an opportunity to deliver on these legitimate expectations.
"I am especially worried about deteriorating security in parts of Iraq. I strongly condemn the terrible attacks which have targeted civilians. And I am deeply saddened by the senseless deaths of innocent Iraqi women, children and men. The suffering of their families should spur us all to action.
"In this difficult time, it is important for all political leaders to unite in their stance against terrorism and come together to stabilize the situation.
"I also encourage measures to strengthen the country’s social fabric – through political participation, democratic processes and institutions, respect for the rule of law and human rights, and inclusive development."
A day before Ban's visit, Iraq was rocked by a series of car bombs and shootings.
The Iraqi Army responded to an attack against an army base in Abu Ghraib that resulted in at least eight deaths. Twin bombings, by car and motorcycle, detonated in Salaheddin province. In central Baghdad, a car bomb targeting Iraqi Army recruits exploded at a bus station, killing three and injuring twelve. Another car bomb in Baghdad killed four and injured fourteen. In Mosul, a bomb attached to a Facilities Protection Services vehicle targeted Iraqi security forces; that attack killed at least one officer and injured six others. South of Mosul, a car bomb detonated near a sheep market, killing at least one and injuring eleven people.