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New UN Envoy to Iraq Chosen - 2004-07-12


U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has named an experienced Pakistani diplomat as U.N. special envoy in Iraq. Ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, currently Pakistan's ambassador in Washington, will take up the U.N. post in Bagdhad at an unspecified future date.

Mr. Qazi has headed Pakistan's mission in Washington for the past two years. He has also served as high commissioner to India and as Pakistan's top diplomat in Syria, China and Russia.

He will fill the position of U.N. special envoy to Iraq, which has been vacant since the death of Sergio Vieira de Mello in August of last year. The Brazilian-born veteran diplomat was killed, along with 21 others, in a truck bomb attack on the U.N. compound in Baghdad. The United Nations pulled its workers out of Iraq after a second attack two months later, and has not yet returned.

U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe said Mr. Annan has not decided when he will send Mr. Qazi to Iraq, because it will depend on whether security improves in the coming months.

"Until circumstances permit security-wise and we get the sufficient security guarantees from both the Iraqis and the forces on the ground, obviously these are considerations that will have to come into play before he can be deployed," she said.

Safety remains a key concern, one that made finding a candidate difficult. U.N. special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who consulted with Iraqi and American leaders to help organize the Iraqi interim government, refused the permanent post.

In the end, the secretary general chose Mr. Qazi, who is Muslim, from a short list of three candidates, including a former Indian foreign secretary and a former Thai foreign minister.

Mr. Annan has said he hopes to re-establish a U.N. presence in the Iraqi capital soon, to help organize elections, deliver humanitarian aid and facilitate reconstruction.

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