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U.N. Envoy Backs Iraqi Vote

A senior U.N. envoy has indicated to Iraqi leaders that he believes nationwide, direct elections could be held late this year or early next year, according to several Iraqis who met with the envoy this week. The envoy, former Algerian foreign minister Lakhdar Brahimi, was dispatched to resolve disagreements among Iraqis over the formation of a transitional government. He has suggested through questions and responses to various proposals that he favors holding elections sooner than the United States has envisaged but not before a planned handover of sovereignty this summer, the Iraqis who met with him said Thursday. Iraqi and U.S. officials with knowledge of Brahimi’s meetings said his strategy could represent a fundamental breakthrough in the political impasse that has so far stalled U.S. efforts to transfer power to Iraqis. “He’s attempting to move everyone to the middle ground,” one member of Iraq’s U.S.-appointed Governing Council said after talking to Brahimi. “He’s trying to get everyone to walk back from their corners.” Full Story

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