- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Iraqi government is weeks away from adopting a law to distribute oil revenues throughout the country and soon will grant amnesty to insurgents who renounce violence, Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi told U.N. member states Friday.

The vice president, in New York for a meeting of the Iraq Compact, outlined steps the government intends to take to restore economic and social stability to a country that has been racked by sectarian violence.

Mr. Abdul-Mahdi, representing one of Iraq’s most powerful Shi’ite political parties, announced a five-year plan to increase the country’s security forces, protect human rights and build up the civil service.

Under a U.S.-Iraqi compact, U.N. member nations are to pledge technical, investment and financial support as Baghdad meets its own goals.

“The Iraqis have done their part,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt said Friday after the presentation. “The question now is, what will the international community do?” Washington has been frustrated by the reluctance of the international community to assist in Iraq’s reconstruction, first because of the unpopularity of the U.S.-led invasion and more recently because of unrest in Iraq.

Despite uncertainty in the country, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told participating ambassadors that the framework for normalization is more important than ever.

“Unlike the other initiatives, the compact focuses on Iraq’s long-term economic development, while also stressing progress in the political and security fields,” he said.

A more traditional pledging conference will be held before the end of April, said U.N. officials, who had hoped to set the date during Friday’s meeting.

Later Friday, as activists gathered to protest the U.S. military presence in Iraq on the fourth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion, Mr. Abdul-Mahdi met with President Bush at the White House to thank him for continuing U.S. support.

Jan Egeland, the closest thing the United Nations has to a superstar since the death of Sergio Vieira de Mello three years ago, has rejoined the fold.

The former humanitarian-aid coordinator has agreed to become a special adviser to Mr. Ban, an undersecretary-level post that will span the regions and involve assembling and sending teams of conflict mediators and other specialists. The job is part time and newly created for Mr. Egeland, who will be based in Norway and paid only for the days he works.

Mr. Egeland, who has significant experience in peace building and disaster relief, will be based in the Department of Political Affairs.

Global warming concern

Under a U.N. report finding humans primarily responsible for climate change, the environment is about to get a new venue: the U.N. Security Council.

British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry told reporters last week that he would like to hold a session in the chambers on global warming, saying that for small island states and countries with populated coastlines, the issue is a matter of international peace and security.

British Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett would be willing to chair the open meeting, he said.

The ambassador indicated he was close to receiving the approval of all 15 council members, including the United States. However, Mr. Jones Parry said the public discussion would be just that: a debate that concludes with no resolution, probably not even a “statement of concern.”

This, presumably, is in deference to Washington, Beijing and other council members that have not signed the Kyoto Protocol and are wary of international agreements on the environment.

Britain will assume the council presidency on April 1, after South Africa’s term ends.

Betsy Pisik can be reached at bpisik@washingtontimes.com.

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