UN mission in Iraq extended

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 12: The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Thursday to extend for a second year a UN mission in Iraq that has so far failed to venture into Baghdad for lack of security.

The council adopted a US-Britain sponsored resolution by a vote of 15-0. It came about at a time when the UN mission led by Ashraf Jehangir Kazi is in Amman, Jordan, weighing its options to go into Baghdad.

However, the security concerns of the UN mission are just as ominous as they were just a year ago after a bomb attack on UN offices in Baghdad which killed mission chief Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 other people.

All UN senior staff were withdrawn from the country in October after UN facilities were bombed a second time, although Iraqi staff continue to work on various UN programmes across the country.

In recent months, a few small UN teams have returned to Iraq for specific tasks, but most of the mission's staff is based in nearby Amman with others operating from Kuwait and making occasional visits to Iraq. The security for the UN team led by Mr Kazi will be provided by US troops.

It is still not clear as to what time line would be adhered to hold the national conference on the forthcoming elections and to jumpstart the political process in the country.

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