A senior U.N. envoy looking into recent bombings of government buildings in the Iraqi capital promised on Monday to listen to Iraq's concerns over the blasts that killed more than 200 people.
Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco met with Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and senior government officials as part of "preliminary consultations on the incidents surrounding" the Aug. 19 and Oct. 25 blasts. Iraq has blamed an alliance between al-Qaida in Iraq and members of Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath Party for the August bombings of the Justice and Finance ministries that killed about 100 people. Last week's twin suicide bombings of the Justice Ministry and the Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works were the worst attack in Iraq in two years, with 155 people killed. Al-Qaida's umbrella group in Iraq claimed responsibility for both attacks.
Fernandez-Taranco said Monday he had come to Baghdad to "listen to the government of Iraq's concerns" over security and sovereignty issues.
After U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week decided to send a special envoy to Baghdad to look into the August bombings _ an announcement that came before the October attacks _ Iraq's Foreign Ministry welcomed the move to help "identify the magnitude" of the "terrorists attacks in Baghdad." The recent bombings have infuriated Iraqis, who question how the bombers could have driven their deadly cargo undetected through multiple checkpoints that dot Baghdad.
Al-Maliki's government, facing a January election, has been under intense pressure to show that the Iraqi military and police are able to handle security as U.S. troops slowly withdraw from the country.