Baghdad, March 27 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday paid an official visit here, aiming at showing the international community’s support to the Iraqi government to confront economic crisis and fight against the Islamic State.
The UN chief, who was accompanied by World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and President of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Ahmad al-Madani, was received at the Baghdad airport by Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, and the two sides held a meeting before heading to the office of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Xinhua reported.
In a joint news conference by Abadi, Ban and the two bank chiefs, Abadi welcomed the visiting top officials and said their visit was aimed at assisting Iraq in its war against the IS, and also to help Iraq overcome the ordeal of the acute fall of oil prices.
“I heard from the visiting top officials that there are plans by the international community to help Iraq, and the plans will kick off next week,” Abadi told reporters without giving further details.
After his meetings with Abadi and Jaafari, Ban said “our visit were successful, and we have held positive dialogues with the prime minister and the foreign minister, in which we have discussed issues of security, politics, economy and human rights in Iraq.”
Ban urged the Iraqi government to step up reconciliation efforts between the Iraqi factions to close the ranks in fighting against the IS, in particular the Sunni community who say they were marginalised by the Shiite-led government.
“National reconciliation is an important part of the strategy to defeat the IS, who have ruthlessly exploited divisions and targeted the marginalised and disenfranchised,” Ban said.
The World Bank chief told reporters that “more economic and administrative reforms are needed to restore stability to the areas that are liberated from the IS,” adding that the World Bank has allocated $250 million for this purpose.
The IDB chief also said the Islamic Bank “will be supportive and cooperative with the government reform program,” asserting that it “will play a substantial role in rebuilding the areas freed from the IS.”
After the news conference, Ban, Jim and Madani paid a visit to the Iraqi parliament in the Green Zone in central Baghdad, and attended a session chaired by the Speaker Salim al-Jubouri, said a statement issued by the parliament media office.
During the session, Jubouri presented his vision to get rid of terrorism, which is based on “strengthening the social fabric and sustainable development,” the statement said.
Ban said in his address in the parliament that “Iraqis are confronting major challenges in particular that terrorists are targeting innocent people, and they can’t be defeated only by military means without addressing the roots of the crisis,” according to the statement.
Ban’s visit came as Iraq is currently witnessing a wave of violence since the IS took control of parts of Iraq’s northern and western regions in June 2014, while the country is striving to overcome wide spread corruption amid acute economic crisis.
The country, which relies on oil revenues for nearly 90 percent of its budget, is facing formidable difficulties with the decline of oil prices in the markets.