By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
Aug. 8, 2007 - The United Nations needs to play a bigger role in helping Iraq overcome its internal challenges and succeed, the U.S. representative to the U.N. said yesterday. U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, a former ambassador to Iraq, said he solidly supports a draft resolution to expand the U.N. assistance mission for Iraq and extend its mandate for another year.
The resolution reflects the views of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the U.N. secretariat, and is expected to be adopted, Khalilzad said.
"The situation in Iraq is important, not only for determining the future of Iraq, ... but also for the future of the region of the Middle East," he said. He called that region's future "the defining geopolitical challenge of our time" and urged a broader U.N. role in shaping its outcome.
Khalilzad noted three specific areas in which the U.N. can assist:
-- Helping Iraqis overcome internal disagreements to reach a national compact regarding political and economic powersharing;
-- Boosting cooperation among regional states to support Iraqi reconciliation and discourage "unhelpful" actions by some neighboring states; and
-- Dealing with humanitarian issues in the region and looking after refugees and assisting with their return to Iraq.
Khalilzad conceded that, ultimately, Iraqis will be the ones to determine if their country succeeds. "It's the Iraqis that have to come together, but the U.N. should play a bigger role to facilitate that," he said.