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Iraqi President Urges UN Members to Drop Saddam-Era Sanctions


Iraq's president Jalal Talabani, touting security gains in that country, has appealed to nations around the world to open diplomatic missions in Baghdad and drop sanctions left over from the Saddam Hussein era. The Iraqi leader was among speakers Thursday in the U.N. General Assembly's general debate. VOA's David Gollust reports from our U.N. bureau.

The Iraqi president says his government still has a long road ahead in its efforts to restore full peace to the country.

But in his U.N. speech, he highlighted incremental successes by Iraqi security forces in Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, and Diyala provinces, and said the government aims to take over security responsibilities for the entire country from U.S.-led multi-national troops by the end of this year.

Accordingly, Mr. Talabani appealed to the world community to recognize the security gains by reopening or establishing diplomatic missions in Baghdad and by increasing the level of representation at the handful of foreign missions already functioning there.

Citing the Baghdad government's commitment to democratic rule and non-interference in neighboring countries, Mr. Talabani urged U.N. members to lift leftover sanctions from the Saddam Hussein era under Chapter Seven of the U.N. charter, and drop or ease compensation claims stemming from actions of the former dictator.

"Iraq no longer threatens international peace and security," he said. "And therefore we call on the international community to adopt measures so that Iraq will no longer be subject to Chapter Seven of the Charter of the United Nations. We call on the international community to take all the measures needed to lift all actions undertaken by the Security Council against Iraq based on this chapter with regard to compensation."

The Iraqi president capped a parade of General Assembly speakers that also included, among others, the leaders of Macedonia and Armenia.

In his speech, Macedonian President Branko Crevenkovski accused Greece of violating a 1995 understanding with his government by blocking Macedonia's bid to join NATO at the alliance's Bucharest summit last April.

The two countries have been locked in a dispute over the name of the former Yugoslav republic, with Greece contending that the use of Macedonia implies a claim to its northern province of the same name.

Mr. Crevenkovski called the Greek contention absurd but said his government remains committed to a reasonable resolution of the dispute under the auspices of U.N. envoy Matthew Nimitz.

"The Republic of Macedonia is ready to accept a fair compromise and reasonable solution which is not going to deny our national, cultural identify," he said. "It is understandable that we are not ready to give consent to just any kind of solution in the case when such an important national issue is in question. If the reason for our integration into international institutions is to contribute to the stabilization of our state, then we should not allow ourselves to be humiliated and to experience internal destabilization due to ill compromise."

In his message, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan expressed concern about the possible advent of a second Cold War because of U.S. Russian-tensions stemming from last month's Georgia crisis.

He also said his government continues to actively negotiate with Azerbaijan in the framework of the OECD's Minsk group over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic-Armenian enclave within Azerbaijan.

Mr. Sargsian said the result should be independence for Nagorno-Karabakh, an outcome widely opposed by members of the international community.

The president of the island state of Sao Tome and Principe off the coast of West Africa, Fradique Bandera Melo de Menezes, was one of several leaders to urge serious international efforts to reverse global warming.

He said in the last 10 years, giant ocean waves have begun to inundate coastal highways, isolating key regions of the low-lying country.

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