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Al-Maliki: Reconciliation stronger than terrorism

  • Story Highlights
  • Flow of weapons, money, and suicide bombers threaten Iraq, al-Maliki says
  • He touts an emerging democracy in Iraq at the United Nations Wednesday
  • The prime minister says sectarian killings in Iraq have decreased
  • He also says security and stability have been restored to "hot spots"
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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The vision of national reconciliation in Iraq is plagued by a tenacious insurgency and sectarian warfare, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told the United Nations Wednesday.

Extolling the advent of freedoms in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein, al-Maliki condemned what he sees as the scourge of world terror.

"We have cautioned all the countries in the region that the continued flow and overflow of weapons, money, suicide bombers, and the spreading of fatwas inciting hatred and murder will only result in disastrous consequences for the region and the world."

The embattled leader of a war-torn nation, al-Maliki called national reconciliation a "realistic vision" that in principle and in practice addresses the problems left behind by the Hussein regime.

"It lays the foundation for political, social, economic progress and the security that we strive for," he told the 62nd session of the U.N. General Assembly.

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He said national reconciliation is the responsibility of all Iraqis, not just the "responsibility of the government alone" and it "cements the principles of the new political system."

"National reconciliation is indeed stronger than the weapons of terrorism," he said.

"It has succeeded in encompassing more than 14,000 people that were members of the armed groups that splintered from al Qaeda," he said of those who are leaving the insurgency.

He also said the spirit of national reconciliation has kept the country from "slipping into the pit of sectarian war. A war that was planned by the enemies of freedom and democracy after blowing up the tomb of the two imams."

Al-Maliki was referring to the February 2006 bombing of the Askariya Mosque, a Shiite shrine in Samarra. The event sparked sectarian fighting.

Some observers argue Iraq is engulfed in a sectarian civil war, but al-Maliki said that is not true.

"The acts of sectarian violence in Iraq are not among society's components but rather among extremists and fanatics from this group or that. We have been successful in containing this problem for a large degree."

He said the number of sectarian killings has decreased and security and stability have been restored to "hot spots."

"This has helped the return of thousands of displaced families to their homes," al-Maliki said.

Amnesty International, citing U.N. figures, has said there are 4.2 million displaced Iraqis -- 2.2 million internally displaced in Iraq and more than 2 million refugees.

Amnesty's recent report, "Millions in flight: The Iraqi refugee crisis," said many countries are not doing enough to help Iraqi refugees and that Syria and Jordan are shouldering too much of the burden in meeting refugees' needs.

Al-Maliki said he was "honored to address" the world as the "first prime minister of a constitutionally permanent government representing Iraq," making clear references to Hussein's regime.

He said the Iraqi people had been isolated "in the shadow of dictatorship for 35 years, with no freedom of thought, elections or press."

But today, he said, free elections, an emerging democracy and media freedom flourish in the "new Iraq," -- all new realities that insurgents want to defeat.

"The new Iraq, ladies and gentlemen, is what is targeted today," he said.

"We are steadfastly determined to exterminate and defeat terrorism in Iraq so that it does not spread around the countries of the world and repeat the tragedy," he said. "We are determined to be victorious in this battle, which will be, indeed, a victory for humanity."

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He also thanked the world body and member nations for their support and sacrifices. The Iraqi government will ease the suffering of the Iraqi people, he said.

"It is our hope that the international community will support Iraq and help it achieve these noble goals," he said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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