U.N. calls for urgent dialogue in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Dec. 17 (UPI) — All parties  interested in a peaceful Iraq are called on to work together to prevent security  from deteriorating further, a U.N. envoy said Monday.

A string of attacks across the country Sunday left at least 19 people dead  and more than 75 injured. The U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq reported at least  25 people were killed in Monday attacks near Mosul and Kirkuk in Iraq’s  north.

Control over the oil-rich city is a matter of contention between the Kurdish  and Iraqi central governments. Clashes between Kurdish forces, called Peshmerga,  and federal troops erupted in November in and around Kirkuk province and the  so-called disputed territories.

Martin Kobler, U.N. special envoy to Iraq and head of the peacekeeping  mission there, called for an urgent national dialogue.

“I call on all parties to engage in inclusive dialogue and to urgently work  on defusing the situation to prevent an escalation,” he said in a statement.  “The United Nations stands ready to facilitate if requested to do so.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban  Ki-moon met with Iraqi leaders early this month. He warned that unresolved  internal divisions in Iraq threaten to reverse security gains made in recent  years.

Ban said divisions among Shiites, Sunnis and ethnic Kurds was a “disservice  to the people of Iraq, who look to their leaders to deliver a better  future.”