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Iraq Asks U.N. to Extend Multinational Force Timetable

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 1, 2005 – Iraq's foreign minister asked the United Nations May 31 to extend its authorization for Multinational Force Iraq to remain in the country.

Hoshya Zebari traveled to the world body's New York headquarters to formally request the continuation of the U.S.-led force, authorized by U.N. Resolution 1546.

The resolution, passed in June 2004, requires a review after 12 months, or at the request of the Iraqi transitional government. Its mandate continues through the election of Iraq's new government, scheduled for December.

Iraq's leaders, however, believe that's too soon.

"We believe to complete the transitional process and build on the political achievement to date, we need the MNF to continue providing its essential contributions to our security," Zebari told the U.N. Security Council.

Coalition troops still are needed as Iraq builds a new government while struggling against insurgents "whose sole agenda is to destroy the ongoing political process," Zebari said.

"We look forward to the day when our forces are able to assume full responsibility for maintaining our national security - at which time there will be no need for the engagement of the MNF," the foreign minister said. "Until then, we need the continued presence of the MNF in Iraq."

In Baghdad, Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari reiterated May 31 to the Iraqi National Assembly his support for a U.N. extension of the timetable established in Resolution 1546. Also on May 31, Anne Patterson, acting U.S. representative to the United Nations, told the Security Council that events on the ground, not an artificial timetable, must drive decisions about the multinational force's presence in Iraq.

"The MNF will not remain in Iraq any longer than necessary," Patterson said. "But nor, consistent with Iraqi requests, should it leave until the Iraqis can meet the serious security challenges they face."

Patterson said the Iraqi people are building a new future and that now is no time for the multinational force to abandon them.

"The Iraqi people are in the midst of forging a new path - a free, democratic path and one that is chosen by the people," she said. "The multinational force remains committed to working to create an environment that fosters such progress."

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