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UN Chief Urges Iraqis to Promote National Reconciliation

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging Iraqis to take advantage of a decline in violence to work across ethnic, sectarian and political lines for national reconciliation.

In a report to the U.N. Security Council circulated Wednesday, Mr. Ban said September had the lowest level of Iraqi casualties this year, which he said, provided an opportunity for progress that "should not be missed."

Mr. Ban said although Iraqis are primarily responsible for achieving the transformation, the world body is ready to assist them to meet that goal.

The U.N. chief attributed the drop in violence in part to a cease-fire by the Shi'ite Mahdi Army militia. He also said that a Sunni insurgent alliance against al-Qaida holds "significant political potential."

In other developments, the U.S. military in Iraq reports coalition forces detained 15 suspected terrorists Thursday in operations targeting al-Qaida networks.

The U.S. military also says Iraqi forces in Diwaniyah have detained a provincial council member suspected of helping insurgents obtain weapons and money for attacks against coalition forces and Iraqi civilians.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.