US withdrawal marks 'new moment' in Iraq

Updated: 2011-12-21 14:09


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UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon said that Iraq will have a new opportunity to prove that it can put past troubles behind it with the full withdrawal of the US forces from the Middle East country, according to a statement released by his spokesman Martin Nesirky here Tuesday.

"The completion of the withdrawal of the United States military forces marks a new moment in Iraq's recent history," the statement said. "The secretary-general strongly believes that this important development is an opportunity for Iraqi leaders to demonstrate to their people and to the world that they are fully capable of steering the country towards a better future."

The US signed a document on December 18 officially ending the Iraq War, after the last US combat forces had left the country. The US began fighting in Iraq in 2003 and has had a presence on the ground since.

According to the statement, Ban is closely following the current political situation in Iraq.

"He urges Iraqi political leaders to engage in inclusive and constructive dialogue to resolve their differences and build on the achievements that have been made so far in laying the ground for a democratic state," said the statement. "Iraqi leaders owe it to the people of Iraq who elected them to work together in spirit of partnership and national unity to address the pressing challenges facing the country."

Iraqi leaders have called for talks among the country's political parties after an arrest warrant was issued for Iraq's vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, on terrorism charges, sparking a political crisis.

The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) is still strongly committed to helping the government and people of the Middle Eastern country, the statement added.