National elections scheduled to take place in Iraq this coming January continue to be the focus of talks in Baghdad between the top United Nations envoy to the country and its senior officials, a UN spokesman said today.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative Ashraf Qazi held separate meetings yesterday with Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh and Defence Minister Hazem Sha'lan.
Their talks reviewed progress in the political process as well as preparations for Iraq's national elections scheduled for 30 January, spokesman Fred Eckhard told a press briefing in New York. The officials also discussed Iraq's security situation and efforts to improve stability ahead of the polls.
Asked if the UN envoy has determined that the situation in Iraq has stabilized to the extent that elections could be held, Mr. Eckhard stressed that it is up to the Iraqi authorities to say whether they feel they can hold elections.
Mr. Qazi, who is continuing contacts with Iraqi officials and political activists, also met with civil society groups for discussions on how the UN can further contribute to advancing the political process in the country.