Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Questions (64)

Seymour Crawford

Question:

192 Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will provide an up-to-date account of the security situation in Iraq; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25208/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

The security situation in Iraq continues to be a matter of serious concern both to Ireland and to the international community at large. Violent incidents continue to increase and I am concerned that the situation may continue to worsen in the run up to the Iraqi elections scheduled for January. In addition to the brutal murder of Mr. Ken Bigley, and persons of many other nationalities, it is the Iraqi people who are suffering most from the continued instability both directly and through the frustration of reconstruction work.

The interim Iraqi government is pursuing a three track strategy to try to end the violence. First, to encourage disaffected groups in the community to enter the political process. Second, to push forward reconstruction efforts so as to relieve the hardships affecting the Iraqi population, especially the poorer elements. Third, to advance as quickly as possible the recruitment and training of Iraqi security forces, not just to contribute to security efforts but also to advance the transfer of responsibility for security from the multi-national force to Iraq's own forces.

The challenge facing the Iraqi government in these areas is great but I believe it is following the correct approach to meet it. It is clear that the elections scheduled for January will be a crucial stage in giving the Iraqi government the authority it needs to restore stability throughout the country.

Ireland and the European Union will continue to give every support we can to the Iraqi government in these efforts, especially in the areas of reconstruction and preparation for the elections. We will also continue to support the involvement of the United Nations in these efforts, which I believe to be crucial to their success.