Dismayed by the recent wave of kidnappings in Iraq, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called for the immediate, safe and unconditional release of all those abducted and strongly reiterated his appeal to all sides to respect at all times the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law.
In a statement issued by his spokesman, Mr. Annan said he was “extremely concerned” about the fate of all Iraqi and foreign civilians who have been kidnapped, including the group of four foreign hostages whose lives are being threatened.
Meanwhile, just a week before Iraqis go to the polls to choose a permanent assembly and a new government, Mr. Annan’s Special Representative in Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, met with the war-torn country’s top Shiite Muslim cleric to discuss the world body’s role.
Mr. Qazi briefed Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the holy city of Najaf on the UN Mission’s work towards facilitating the 15 December elections through its technical advice to the Independent Electoral Commission (IECI).
They also discussed the Mission’s role in the national reconciliation conference that is to take place early next year.
They agreed on the need for the vote to be free from violence and intimidation, to be inclusive, transparent and fair, as well as on the need to focus on confidence-building measures that can pave the way towards national reconciliation among all Iraqis.