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US UN Envoy Says Iran Has Role to Play In Stabilizing Iraq


America's new representative at the United Nations says Iran has a significant role to play in bringing stability to Iraq. Correspondent Peter Heinlein at the U.N. says the envoy called on Iranian leaders to end their support for Iraqi insurgents.

Washington's U.N. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad Monday welcomed Iran's participation at an international conference on Iraq this week.

Speaking to reporters after presenting his diplomatic credentials to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Khalilzad said he is not surprised Iran is sending a delegation to the Iraq Compact meeting beginning Thursday in Egypt.

"For Iraq to work you need an internal compact among the Iraqi groups with regard to the future of Iraq, but you also need an agreement among powers that affect the situation in Iraq," said Zalmay Khalilzad. "Iran is one that has a significant role to play. It is providing both support for the government and support for the opponents of the government, and what we would like to do at these meetings is get cooperation in support of the government and to eliminate support for the opponents of this new Iraq."

The two days of meetings on Iraq at the Egypt's Sharm el-Sheik will be co-chaired by Secretary-General Ban and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Mr. Ban told VOA Monday he is happy to see the world body taking an increasingly large role in Iraq.

"I'm glad that the United Nations has been continuously taking the initiative in helping the Iraqi people to recover economic and social conditions and I'm also looking forward to the expanded foreign ministers meeting of Iraq's neighboring countries," said Ban Ki-moon. "I hope this will prove for the international community to send strong commitment and support for the Iraqi people."

After his meeting with Mr. Ban, Ambassador Khalilzad said he expects the world body to commit to an increasingly prominent role in Iraq after the Sharm el-Sheik meetings.

"There is more the U.N. can do, and I believe in the aftermath of this agreement, there are a number of issues on which we will discuss with the secretary-general, and of course with other members, where the U.N. can play an increased role to help Iraqis deliver on the commitment they will be making in the Iraq Compact," he said.

The Iraq Compact is a five-year peace and development plan that lays out benchmarks and mutual commitments by the Baghdad government and international partners.

At Thursday's opening session in Sharm el-Sheik, Iraqi leaders will pledge to meet the basic needs of the people and protect the rights of all citizens. In return, the international community will agree to provide financial, technical and political support.

Friday's meeting is expected to link Iraq's neighbors, including Iran and Syria, along with foreign ministers of the Group of Eight and European Union countries in a discussion of how to stabilize the war-ravaged country.

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