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Iraqi FM: Security Remains Top Priority in Iraq

Iraq's foreign minister says his country is making progress with the death of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the formation of a new unity government.

But Hoshyar Zebari told the U.N. Security Council that security remains Iraq's top priority. He said it is critical to national reconciliation and self-sufficiency.

Zebari said U.N. engagement is also crucial to Iraq's progress. He called on U.N. member states to increase funding and operational support and asked that the U.N. expand its role in Iraq as security improves.

The deadly bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad in 2003 prompted U.N. staff to pull out of Iraq.

After Zebari spoke, the Security Council authorized the U.S.-led multinational force to remain in Iraq until the end of this year.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, also addressed the Security Council. He said terrorists remain capable of carrying out attacks in Iraq.

Earlier Thursday, Iraq's national security advisor, Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, said the killing of Zarqawi signals "the beginning of the end" of al-Qaida in Iraq. He said foreign forces could be out of Iraq by mid-2008.

In other news, the U.S. military said the death toll for U.S. service members in Iraq has reached 25-hundred. Nearly two-thousand of the dead were killed by hostile action.

Reacting to the new death toll, a White House spokesman, Tony Snow, said President Bush feels the pain of families who have lost loved ones. He said the president believes U.S. soldiers who died in Iraq did not die in vain.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.