The U.N. Security Council has authorized the U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq until the end of 2006. The authorization followed a meeting with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.
Zebari told Council members that security remains Iraq's highest priority and is critical to national reconciliation and self sufficiency.
The foreign minister said the elimination of Abu Masab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al- Qaida in Iraq, and the formation of a fulltime government have created a sense of momentum in Iraq. But he said United Nations engagement is crucial to Iraq's progress.
"We continue to need the U.N. to engage in Iraq to its maximum capacity," said Hoshyar Zebari. "We call upon member states to step up the provision of funds and operational support, as my government pledged to provide any assistance necessary to enhance the U.N. mission. As security in Iraq improves, we request that the U.N. reinforce its staff and increases its role throughout the country."
Zebari said Iraqi and multinational troops are undertaking large security operations in Baghdad, but he warned against underestimating the challenge presented by the insurgents.
Zebari said economic development is the next challenge to political stability in Iraq.
"To consider political stability, we must also expedite social, economic development and reconstruction," he said. "We're undertaking broad ministerial reform and modernizing institutions and capacity building within a core frame of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. At the same time, we plan to accelerate the pace of reconstruction to generate employment and capitalize on Iraq's wealth of natural resources."
Zebari said continued cooperation between Iraqi and multinational forces is necessary to achieve Iraq's goals of security and self-sufficiency.