Britain today welcomed the appointment of a new top United Nations envoy to Iraq.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has named long-serving diplomat Staffan de Mistura his special representative in the country, replacing Ashraf Qazi, who is taking on a similar role in strife-wracked Sudan.
Swedish-Italian Mr de Mistura previously served under Mr Qazi in Iraq in 2005/06, following a four-year stint in southern Lebanon as the personal representative of Mr Ban’s predecessor Kofi Annan. Last year, he led a high-level team to Nepal to discuss UN assistance for the Himalayan state’s peace process.
He and Mr Qazi are faced with a series of seemingly intractable problems in two of the UN’s most sensitive postings, due to the ongoing unrest in Iraq following the 2003 war and the inter-communal violence in the Sudanese province of Darfur.
Pakistani-born Mr Qazi will have responsibility for the deployment of a 26,000-strong United Nations-African Union peacekeeping operation in Darfur, as well as overseeing the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), which is working to implement a 2005 peace agreement ending the civil war which raged between northern and southern Sudan over two decades.
Foreign Secretary David Miliband today welcomed both appointments.
He said: “I welcome the appointments by the UN Secretary General of Ambassador Staffan de Mistura as his new Special Representative to Iraq and Ambassador Ashraf Qazi as his new Special Representative to Sudan.
“I would like to congratulate Ambassador Qazi on the contribution he has made as Special Representative to Iraq over the last three years.
“The Security Council was clear in unanimously agreeing in resolution 1770 that the UN has a crucial role to play in advancing Iraqi political dialogue and national reconciliation; facilitating dialogue within the region; and facilitating co-ordinated humanitarian assistance and the international community’s reconstruction efforts.
“The British Government looks forward to supporting Ambassador de Mistura and the UN as it continues to deliver on that role.
“I am glad that the UN Secretary General has appointed such an experienced Special Representative to Sudan. He will bring fresh energy to re-vitalising the UN’s support, through UNMIS, to the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which itself will help the resolution of the Darfur Crisis.
“The British Government will be pleased to continue working closely with Ambassador Qazi in his new role and with his deputy Ameera Haq, the new Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Sudan.”