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Iraq has seen a significant drop in violence and a much-improved security situation, the country's President said on the opening day of the General Assembly's annual high-level segment today.

Despite some terrorist attacks targeting civilians across the nation, better security overall paved the way for last month's withdrawal of United States combat forces in Iraq, Jalal Talabani told world leaders gathered at UN Headquarters.

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and observers from the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the League of Arab States and others deemed the March legislative elections “transparent and fair,” he said.

The Council of Representatives will vote to elect a Speaker for the incoming Council and a President, who will then request the new Prime Minister to form a government.

“It is our hope that this new Government will be formed as soon as possible, as any delay in its formation will negatively affect the security situation, reconstruction and prosperity,” Mr. Talabani stressed.

In April, Iraq initiated a five-year National Development Plan with a $186 billion price tag.

The scheme plans to spur economic growth, create some 4 million jobs, and aid the return home of Iraqi refugees.

“Iraq needs the experience of all its citizens to help in building the future of the country,” the President said.

The most important issue his country is facing is ridding itself of the “burden” of Security Council resolutions adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, he said, calling for an end to the remaining restrictions in the field of disarmament, wrapping up outstanding contracts of the Oil-for-Food programme, and finding the appropriate mechanism to protect Iraqi money to replace the Development Fund for Iraq and the International Advisory and Monitoring Board for Iraq.

The nation is “very serious about putting an end to these files this year,” Mr. Talabani said.

“The situation in Iraq has changed as a result of immense positive developments that have taken place since the collapse of the former regime and the end of the dictatorship,” he asserted.

During talks today with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the UN chief voiced the joint concern and sense of urgency expressed at a recent meeting with the Foreign Ministers of China, France, Russia, the

United Kingdom and the US at the lack of progress in forming a government more than six months after the national polls were held.

Mr. Ban asked the Iraqi President to encourage political leaders in his country to advance efforts to form a new government through an inclusive and broadly participatory process, reiterating UNAMI's commitment to assist Iraq, particularly in the areas of human rights and development.

He also said that he hopes Iraq will fulfil its outstanding obligations to Kuwait, pledging the UN's continued commitment to help the two nations normalize relations.