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UN Chief Welcomes Reduction in Iraq Attacks, Calls for Political Progress


United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the reduction in violence across Iraq and urged similar progress in the political arena.

In a report to the Security Council Wednesday, Mr. Ban said "improvements in the political arena" are necessary to sustain recent gains in the security situation.

Mr. Ban expressed disappointment at the political process in Iraq, saying it "has not shown the degree of progress that many had hoped for."

He said he has instructed his special representative in Iraq to review "every aspect" of the U.N.'s work to see how it could help in political reconciliation between Iraqi factions.

In August, the Security Council authorized the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq to promote political talks among Iraqis and a regional dialogue on border security issues, refugees and energy.

In a major political development, the Iraqi parliament last week approved a law that allows former members of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party to regain government jobs.

During an unannounced visit to Baghdad Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice praised the passage of the new law, saying it is a sign reconciliation is moving along. She also urged Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki not to squander the momentum.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.