U.N. 'convinced' Iraq is improving

UNITED NATIONS, April 29 (UPI) -- Top U.N. political chief B. Lynn Pascoe told the Security Council Baghdad expressed its gratitude to the world body but noted more work could be done.

Pascoe returned from a visit to Iraq to brief the Security Council, saying he was "absolutely convinced that the United Nations was doing its best" to guide Iraq through difficult times.


The challenges facing Iraqi national reconciliation and reconstruction, Pascoe said, extend beyond the borders of Iraq and require sustained international support to overcome.

The Iraqi government needs to tackle the fundamental issue of reaching a compromise power-sharing arrangement and set the path to determine the federal structure of Iraq in order to succeed. Pascoe praised Iraqi leaders for making progress on voter registration drives scheduled for June and provincial elections in October.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad stressed that while progress in Iraq was uneven, the country made substantial improvements.

Khalilzad, the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, noted civilian deaths fell 72 percent from their July 2007 levels, adding general declines were seen across the board.


The Iraqi dinar was strong and interest rates remained low, though Khalilzad said more improvements could be made to integrate economically with the region.

Iraq's Ambassador to the United Nations Hamid al-Bayati echoed the sentiments of his U.S. counterpart, adding the Iraqi national budget was $48 billion. Bayati noted those funds would go to general and financial reconstruction of Iraq, as well as aid for Iraqi refugees.

Addressing the looming issue of government corruption, Bayati said the government passed a corruption measure in March.

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