Special report: Tension escalates in Iraq
UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security
Council unanimously voted on Monday to recognize the expiration of the mandate
of the U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq (MNF-I) by the end of the year.
The 15-member body adopted a U.S.-British resolution
"recognizing the expiration of the mandate of the multinational force at the end
of December 31 2008," as requested by the Iraqi government.
"This termination marks a turning point for Iraq and
the end of an important era for the UN and, above all, the contributing
countries to the MNF-I," Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told the council.
Zebari said that Iraq and the United States have
negotiated "new security arrangements to direct the future bilateral
partnership" between the two countries, including an agreement on the withdrawal
of U.S. forces from Iraq and a strategic framework agreement for U.S.-Iraq
friendship and cooperation, which have been approved by the Iraqi government and
Past Security Council resolutions which authorized
and extended the MNF mandate, have been based on the "premise that the MNF-I's
continued presence would be until such time that Iraq can assume full
responsibility and self-sufficiency in maintaining security for the country and
the people of Iraq," he said.
"Now, according to the agreement with the United
States, 2011 would be a realistic date for the withdrawal of all U.S. forces
from our country," Zebari said.
"Therefore, noting the significant progress achieved,
and the conclusion of the security accord with the United States, Prime Minister
(Nouri) Maliki's letter, dated December 7 2007, was the final request to extend
the MNF-I mandate, which will thus expire at the end of this year," said the
Zebari thanked the multinational force for
contributing "vital support to the progress in building security and stability
in Iraq, and towards our transition to a sovereign, federal and united
democracy," as well as all the MNF's contributing countries.
The UN Security Council adopted resolution 1546 on
June 8 2004 to authorize the multinational force to stay in Iraq and has
successively extended its mandate at the request of the Iraqi government.