UNITED NATIONS, Feb 23: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Thursday appealed to all communities in Iraq to show maximum restraint after the “provocative” bombing of a Shia shrine, and the top United Nations envoy on the ground said he would invite a wide range of Iraqi leaders to a meeting in an effort to curb communal strife.

Saying that the attack on the holy shrine of Imam Ali-Hadi Mosque in Samara was clearly aimed at provoking sectarian strife and undermining peace and stability, Mr Annan urged all political and religious leaders to “come together in a spirit of dialogue and mutual respect to calm the situation and dedicate their efforts to ensure the respect of human rights and the protection of places of worship.

“The United Nations will continue to do everything possible to assist the Iraqi people to promote inter-communal dialogue and national reconciliation,” he added in a statement issued by his spokesman in New York.

SECURITY COUNCIL: Thursday afternoon, following Security Council consultations, Council President John Bolton of the United States said the 15-member body strongly condemned the attacks, calling the people of Iraq “to come together against violence and terror and support the peaceful political process of national dialogue and unity.”

In a statement to the press, Mr Bolton said that Council Members also reiterated their call for Iraq’s political leaders to work with resolve toward the formation of a fully inclusive government.

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