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UN Approves Iraq Sovereignty Resolution - 2004-06-09


The U.N. Security Council has unanimously approved a resolution endorsing Iraqi sovereignty. But violence continues to plague Iraq with deadly bombings reported in the north. But four Western hostages have been released and some of their kidnappers detained.

Just before the final vote in the U.N. Security Council, President Bush told reporters the resolution will send a clear message to the world. "These nations understand that a free Iraq will serve as a catalyst for change in the broader Middle East which is an important part in winning the war on terror," he said.

Mr. Bush was speaking at the G-8 summit of the world's top industrialized nations, which he is hosting in Sea Island, Georgia.

Iraq's new interim president is attending the meeting to talk about his country's economic needs. Mr. Bush is expected to urge the G-8 leaders to consider forgiving much of Baghdad's foreign debt.

The U.N. resolution endorses Iraq's sovereignty and the timetable for a transition to elections no later than January of 2005.

After intense negotiations and several drafts, the council members have agreed on a text giving Iraq control over its own security forces. The resolution also talks of a partnership between the U.S.-led coalition force and Iraq's interim government. The coalition force and the new government will have to work on arrangements for handling what are called sensitive offensive operations.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has praised the U.N. effort, which he says gives the interim government that takes power on July 1 much-needed international legitimacy.

"The level of occupation will be taken away and those people who are fighting the American forces and coalition will be facing the Iraqis themselves who want to build a better future," he said.

Meanwhile in Baghdad, the top U.S. commander, Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez, announced earlier Tuesday that coalition forces had freed four hostages in a strike at a hideout, located south of Baghdad. A Polish citizen abducted last week and three Italians kidnapped in April are reported in good health. A fourth Italian had been executed after Italy rejected the insurgents' demands to withdraw its 2,700 troops from Iraq.

General Sanchez says some of the kidnappers are now in custody. "All of the hostages were at the same location and yes we did detain some individuals at the site."

News of the release coincided with the appearance of a video showing seven Turkish nationals surrounded by armed men wearing masks. One of the masked kidnappers calls on Turkish Muslims to refuse to work with the coalition forces.

Insurgents have targeted Iraqis and other nationals who work with foreign companies and the coalition forces, calling them collaborators of occupation.

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