The Security Council has unanimously extended the mandate of the U.N. Mission in Iraq for another year.

The resolution renews the mission's mandate to play a leading role in helping the Iraqi people and government develop the institutions of representative government and promote national unity.

The Security Council was deeply divided over the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, but has supported post-conflict efforts to set up a transitional government. The U.N. mission has been involved in helping Iraqis draft a constitution and is expected to help organize a referendum to vote on the constitution in October and elections in December.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton says that although the mission is small in size it has played an important role in the process of drafting a constitution and will be needed as Iraq moves forward.

"Second, as we look forward to the referendum in the fall and the election in December, there is considerable international assistance in the electoral area," he said.  "I think that is all very positive. We also see the broader political significance of the resolution. [It is] the second, last week's being on the continued flow of terrorist weapons and financing into Iraq. I think this shows the Council as a whole is viewing the question of progress in Iraq from very similar points of view and I think that is entirely positive."

The mission was cut back to 80 staffers and 160 soldiers who guard them two years ago after an attack that claimed the lives of 22 people, including the head of the mission. Iraq would like the United Nations to increase the size of the mission, sending more staffers to U.N. offices in the north and south.