Monday, October 19, 2009

Iraq: Talks over contested boundaries in oil rich northern Iraq make headway

Talks on disputed internal Iraqi boundaries – in the oil-rich, ethnically mixed north – have made progress on measures to address concerns of local residents, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) announced today.

Senior representatives of the Iraqi Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government met recently to address the needs of the people living in the areas being considered by the Task Force on Dialogue for follow-up to the UNAMI reports on the demarcations.

UNAMI submitted a report to Iraqi authorities in April for each of the more than one dozen disputed districts.

The mission says the reports are analytical, not prescriptive, and include a discussion paper on the future of the Kirkuk governorate, which proposes four options – all of which treat the governorate as a single entity – based on the Iraqi Constitution and requiring a political agreement among the parties, as well as some form of referendum.

During recent discussions, both sides underscored the importance of maintaining the unity of the people of Iraq and the integrity of its territories, including identifying ways to resolve outstanding land and property disputes resulting from activities before and after the US-led invasion of 2003, as well as to guarantee the right of all Iraqis for the education of their children in their mother tongue.

The Task Force also recognized the importance of ensuring transparent detention practices, transferring detainees to the governorates they originated from, and immediately investigating the status of missing persons.

“Dialogue between the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region remains critical for the stability of the country and for addressing numerous outstanding issues that are central to its functioning,” said the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Iraq Ad Melkert.

“The United Nations is committed to supporting dialogue among Iraqis, including through development and humanitarian support in these important areas, and remains encouraged by the positive discussions taking place,” added Mr. Melkert, who also heads UNAMI.

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