Delegates at UN-Iraq conference urge support for Iraq
Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told a UN- Iraq conference Thursday that his country had "achieved progress", and remained "optimistic".
Despite "security challenges" Iraq managed to make progress in areas ranging from reducing inflation, child mortality rates and increasing security for the population during the past year, reported dpa.
Oil exports had also boosted the country's economy, al-Maliki told the conference outside Stockholm - a follow-up to the International Compact for Iraq (ICI) launched a year ago at a summit in Egypt.
The Iraqi premier called for "sister countries to forgive debts" and stated that Baghdad was committed to tackle corruption.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also said "notable progress" had been made in security, political and economic areas, but cautioned that "Iraqi people continue to suffer from acts of terrorism, sectarian violence and criminality."
However, there were signs of "hope," he said and that "Iraq is stepping back from the abyss we feared most. Nevertheless the situation remains fragile."
In his opening remarks, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told the more than 90 delegations that "building a strong partnership is in all our interest."
He underlined the importance that neighbouring countries have had in hosting the flow of refugees from Iraq, and cited the need to let "the UN take the lead in our engagement with Iraq."
Shortly before the opening of the conference, Reinfeld met with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who cited progress in terms of security in Iraq at a joint news conference with Reinfeldt.
"The Iraqis themselves are making considerable progress toward the achievement of an Iraq that is more stable, that has functioning institutions and where security is improving," Rice said.
It was not a donor conference, Rice said, adding that Iraqis "do need large infusions of practical assistance, project support" and help to build up its police forces and justice system.
Rice also gave credit to Sweden, which since 2003 has received some 40,000 refugees from Iraq.
Al-Maliki and other Iraqi officials were Friday to hold bilateral meetings with Swedish officials and discuss the needs for investment in Iraq's infrastructure.