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Nations adopt declaration of support for Iraq

23 June, 2005

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BRUSSELS, June 23 (Online): Top Iraqi officials laid out their plans for reform on Wednesday, urging their neighbours and other nations to support their roadmap for change with expertise and aid as they work to secure order, rejuvenate the economy and draft a new constitution.

Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and other members of his transitional government presented their plan for reform at a one-day international conference that brought together more than 80 senior officials from the UN, the European Union, the United States and nations as far away as Fiji.

"We have presented our visions and our priorities to you. Now itís your turn to look at those elements and those priorities to see where you can help," Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said in closing remarks.

The nations responded by adopting a declaration of support, saying it backed the transitional governmentís "efforts to achieve a democratic, pluralist, federal and unified Iraq, reflecting the will of the Iraqi people, in which there is full respect for political and human rights."

UN chief Koffi Annan said the international support given Iraq during the conference in Brussels amounted to a "turning point" for a country blighted by decades of war and poverty. "This conference marks a watershed for Iraq," Annan told top diplomats participating in the conference. "Iím confident this will be a turning point in Iraqís transition," he said at the end of the conference.

He concluded by saying that he hoped there was a "wider and deeper consensus" within the international community toward rebuilding Iraq, which is still gripped by an insurgency raging since the US-led ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice forecast that the defeat of "evil" terrorists in Iraq will spell the "death knell of terrorism as we know it." Speaking at the conference, she said the task of rebuilding the violence-wracked country "is of course a process that is challenged by evil people who would try and destroy those hopes and dreams." But she said: "Terrorism can be and will be defeated in Iraq, and when it is defeated in Iraq it will be a death knell for terrorism as we know it."

Rice also urged Syria to "live up to its responsibilities" in preventing militants from crossing its border into Iraq to carry out bombings and other attacks. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Britain hopes to withdraw its troops from Iraq "as quickly as possible," but only plans to do so when it is sure Iraqi forces can cope with the security threat.

He also reiterated that Britain was "ashamed" of prisoner abuses carried out by US and British forces, but maintains its call for Iraqi human rights standards to improve. On the other side, the al-Qaeda in Iraq said the political and economic reconstruction conference has offered the United States an exit from Iraq. "After it tasted defeat, humiliation and destruction in the Land of the two rivers, now it is begging for someone to rescue her," the group said of the United States in a statement posted on a Web site.

 

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