UN chief and US Secretary of State discuss preparations for Iraqs elections

The two also discussed Middle East reform, Haiti, Sudan, Afghanistan and UN reform, and held a brief one-on-one encounter, according to a spokesman for the world body.Afterward during a press encounter, the Secretary-General said the United Nations will put in the staff in Iraq it deems necessary. “It’s not a question of numbers. It’s a question of what you need to get the job done,” said Mr. Annan, who also met today with US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.The UN currently has some 220 people in Baghdad serving with the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) – 157 Fijian guards providing security for UN premises and personnel and 64 international staff, up from a previous ceiling of 59.Another 70 UNAMI international staff are based in Amman, Jordan, and in Kuwait. Electoral staff from the Mission inside and outside Iraq are part of an integrated team of some 50 international electoral experts from the UN, European Union and other organizations operating under UN coordination.The UN has helped to train 6,000 elections workers, opened 450 voter registration centres and recruited and trained up to 130,000 poll workers in preparation for the elections scheduled for 30 January.Meanwhile, yesterday was the last day for political entities to register in the run-up to the elections and the certification of their candidate lists. The latest figures show 237 political entities have signed up – with none rejected so far, translating to more than 11,000 candidates running for the elections.A UN spokesman in New York said the entities reflect a broad spectrum of Iraqi society, with all religious and ethnic groups represented. “Some of the candidate lists include representatives from other tribes and minority religious sects, showing that groups are using the electoral process to form alliances and attract wide support,” Stephane Dujarric told reporters.The Secretary-General will travel later today to Brussels to attend the European Union summit on Friday. read more

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