VATICAN CITY (CNS): The Vatican’s top foreign affairs official has hailed the transfer of power to an Iraqi provisional government, saying Iraq “can only be governed and understood by its own people”.
Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, an assistant secretary of state, said the success of the Iraqi government will depend largely on its ability to ensure political freedom, restore basic services and crack down on “cowardly acts” of terrorism.
The stakes in Iraq are high, he said, because the outcome “could determine the development of democracy in the whole region”.
Archbishop Lajolo made the comments in an interview with Catholic News Service on June 29.
On the same day, the United States handed over sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government headed by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, formally ending a 14-month occupation two days ahead of schedule.
Archbishop Lajolo said the handover should help convince many countries – including those that opposed the war – to provide aid for Iraqi reconstruction.
In Baghdad, the head of Chaldean Catholics, Patriarch Emmanuel-Karim Delly, said the handover marked a turning point for the country.