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Different Iraqi factions should reach understanding on national accord – Annan

Different Iraqi factions should reach understanding on national accord – Annan

To strengthen Iraq's ongoing political process, the main elements of political and civil society must reach an understanding towards a national accord, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told delegates planning a Cairo conference on reconciliation in the war-wracked country.

"It is my hope that this preparatory meeting will help the Iraqi parties agree on the next steps required to bring about mutual trust and a sense of shared responsibility – essential ingredients in enabling the people of Iraq to forge a national accord, as the foundation of a peaceful, united and democratic Iraq," he said in a message read by UN Iraq envoy Ashraf Qazi.

Hailing the League of Arab States for its initiative to convene the Conference for Iraqi National Accord, Mr. Annan said regional initiatives have a "crucial role to play in nurturing broad national dialogue and reconciliation in Iraq, in full respect of Iraq's national sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence."

The Secretary-General also pledged the UN's for an inclusive, participatory and transparent political process that is responsive to the aspirations of all of Iraq's communities.

Echoing Mr. Annan's message, Mr. Qazi, in his own speech, said the principal means of supporting and strengthening the political process in Iraq is to broaden it so that it brings in those groups that have not yet decided to participate.

"This conference on Iraq will hopefully initiate a process in which serious differences of opinions on serious issues will not be barriers to dialogue, compromise and accord," he said. "All those who are prepared to peacefully pursue their political objectives must participate in the endeavour to build the new Iraq in which their dreams and aspirations will find a place."

Mr. Qazi observed that Iraqis from different communities are often more candid when voicing their political positions to non-Iraqis than among themselves. "To a great extent this is a matter of courtesy, but it can also impede the process of developing the essential base of understanding, trust and confidence for a viable national political process."

He called on all concerned "to give priority to engaging each other in purposeful dialogue and in a manner that opens up discussion rather than closes it. This is the surest way to narrow the base for violence and extremism."

To foster a climate conducive to dialogue, he said human rights violations must cease. "The abuse of human rights that we see on a daily basis through the resort to political violence on the one hand and inadequate controls on the conduct of security operations on the other, remains of very grave concern," he said.

"If not effectively addressed this situation can seriously impede the promotion of a national dialogue that can reach agreement on a national accord," he warned. "Effectively addressing this situation may not be easy. But it is essential that this be done."