The following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres' video message to the Sulaimani Forum on Wednesday:
I am pleased to greet the Sulaimani Forum, and thank you for advancing dialogue on the complex challenges facing Iraq and the broader Middle East region.
We all recognize that these challenges did not arise overnight. They are the product of decades of oppression, war, terrorism, sectarianism, and foreign interference. And no one can expect these challenges to be resolved overnight, least of all at a time of escalating geopolitical tensions, economic uncertainty, and proliferating conflicts.
But I have just come back from Iraq - with a real sense that a window of opportunity has opened to achieve progress. Progress on improving public services, diversifying the economy, and creating decent work opportunities for young people.
Progress in strengthening human rights, in the fight against corruption, and in the pursuit of domestic and regional stability through diplomacy and dialogue. And progress in building resilience to climate shocks and water scarcity that threaten lives and livelihoods.
Mesopotamia is the ancient land between the rivers. It cannot become the modern land without rivers. In all of this and more, national unity, regional cooperation, and multilateral action are essential.
The United Nations is proud to continue to support Iraq in tackling the challenges of today and tomorrow. Together, let us keep working towards sustainable, inclusive solutions for the benefit of all people across Iraq and the wider Middle East. Thank you. Shukran.
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