UNITED NATIONS (AP) – With a new U.N. envoy expected in Baghdad shortly, Security Council members reached agreement Wednesday on the text of a resolution that will extend the U.N. mission in Iraq for a year.

The brief draft resolution reaffirms “that the United Nations should play a leading role in assisting the Iraqi people and government in the formation of institutions for representative government.”

But Secretary-General Kofi Annan made clear to the council in a report Friday that the United Nations will remain “a high-value” target for attacks in Iraq for the foreseeable future, which will severely limit the number of U.N. staff allowed in the country.

How significant a role the world body can play, operating mainly from outside Iraq, remains to be seen.

The draft resolution, which is expected to come to a vote Thursday, says the council will review the mandate of the U.N. mission in 12 months or sooner if requested by the Iraqi government.

Annan’s new envoy, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi of Pakistan, is expected to take up his post in Baghdad this week with a small team, giving the United Nations an official presence in Iraq for the first time since October.

The secretary-general ordered all U.N. international staff to leave following two bombings at U.N. headquarters in Baghdad and a spate of attacks on humanitarian workers. The first bombing, on Aug. 19, 2003, killed the last U.N. envoy, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and 21 others.

The Security Council has given the United Nations a major political role in helping Iraq’s new interim government prepare for two rounds of elections and draft a constitution. It would also like the world body to be a major player in Iraq’s reconstruction.

Annan said Qazi’s primary task will be to assist the Iraqis in political activities leading to the establishment of a constitutionally elected government by Dec. 31, 2005. He said Qazi would arrive in Baghdad before a national conference of political, religious and civic leaders gets under way in mid-August.

A small U.N. team led by Jamal Benomar is already in Iraq helping prepare for the conference. But the United Nations is having trouble organizing security.

AP-ES-08-11-04 2212EDT

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