Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Adviser, Lakhdar Brahimi, held talks with the Iraqi Governing Council in Baghdad today as part of the United Nations mission to help form an administration to take over from the United States-led occupation forces on 1 July and prepare for elections early next year.
“This is the first step in this long journey, which inch' Allah, God willing, will lead, in the end, to the formation of this government on schedule and to the well-prepared elections which will enable the Iraqi people to have a government that is elected through transparent, democratic elections,” Mr. Brahimi told a news briefing after the meeting.
“These will be steps towards the restoration of peace and stability which the Iraqi people need and aspire to,” he added.
Wishing him every success in his mission, current Governing Council President Massud Barzani pledged close cooperation between the Council's specialized committees and Mr. Brahimi's delegation.
Asked whether security issues were discussed following the recent flare-up in violence, Mr. Barzani said the talks focused on the elections and the transfer of power.
“This was an initial meeting,” he added. “Mr. Brahimi will need some time to conduct consultations with all the parties both in the Governing Council and outside the Governing Council.”
Mr. Brahimi was asked if he would be meeting with personalities like Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani who, according to press reports, had concerns over UN involvement.
“We will meet all the personalities that wish to contribute to this effort and wish to meet with us,” the envoy replied. “We are the United Nations and the doors of the United Nations are open to all.”
Mr. Brahimi and his aides, who arrived in Baghdad yesterday, join a UN technical team, headed by Carina Perelli, already in Iraq to assess what needs to be done to hold credible elections by 31 January 2005.