Iraq ‘stepping back from the abyss’: Ban Ki-moon

UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Thursday hailed the progress made in Iraq, insisting that with international help it could fulfill its "vision of becoming a free, secure, stable and prosperous nation."

“Iraq is stepping back from the abyss that we feared most,” Ban told delegates from around 100 governments and international organizations at a one-day conference aimed at assessing reconstruction of the war-ravaged country.

He went on to caution however that “the situation remains fragile.”

“The Iraqi people continue to suffer from acts of terrorism, sectarian violence and criminality. Many endure forced displacement and human rights violations. Essential services are still sorely lacking,” he said.

Up to 600 delegates were at the one-day conference, hosted by Ban and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and attended by among others US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.