UN envoy stresses importance of engaging Iraqis in constitution drafting process

With senior officials from Iraq’s neighbouring countries gathered for a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, the top United Nations Envoy for Iraq has stressed the importance of a constitution-drafting process that engages the Iraqi population in the final outcome.Addressing the eighth meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the countries neighbouring Iraq, convened to assess the situation following the recent general elections there, Ashraf Qazi, head of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), stressed that improved security in the country needed a broad-based approach in which increased Iraqi security capacity was matched by progress in other areas, notably political outreach, public services, greater employment opportunities and development of local institutions.The two-day meeting, held over the weekend, brought together representatives from Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria as well as Bahrain, Egypt, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Arab League and the European Commission.In his address, Mr. Qazi welcomed the continued engagement of the neighbouring states as a key support for Iraq in the coming phase of its political transition. He also updated the conference on UNAMI’s expanded activities, including the establishment of liaison offices in Erbil in the north and Basrah in the south, and its role in coordinating donor assistance both in regard to the constitutional process and support for reconstruction.Meanwhile, in the Conference’s final communiqué, the ministers stressed the pivotal role the UN should play in the new phase, welcomed the increasing presence of UN staff in Iraq and called for the world body to establish itself more broadly in monitoring and assisting the political process and economic rehabilitation. read more

Neel Kashkari tapped to succeed Kocherlakota as head of Minneapolis Fed bank

by Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press Posted Nov 10, 2015 10:11 am MDT Last Updated Nov 10, 2015 at 1:39 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Neel Kashkari tapped to succeed Kocherlakota as head of Minneapolis Fed bank FILE – In this July 21, 2014 file photo, Neel Kashkari speaks in Sacramento, Calif. Kashkari, a prominent business executive and one-time candidate for governor of California, has been chosen to be the head of the Federal Reserve’s regional bank in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater, File) WASHINGTON – Neel Kashkari, a prominent business executive and unsuccessful candidate for California governor, has been chosen as head of the Federal Reserve’s regional bank in Minneapolis.Kashkari will succeed Narayana Kocherlakota, who will step down from the job of Minneapolis Fed president on Dec. 31. Kocherlakota has held the position since 2009 and announced last December that he would not seek re-appointment once his current term ends.Kashkari was chosen by the regional bank’s board of directors. He most recently served as managing director of PIMCO. A Republican, he ran for governor of California in 2014, losing to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.Kashkari, 42, worked at the Treasury Department from 2006 to 2009. During the height of the financial crisis in 2009, he was tapped by then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to oversee the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the $700 billion bailout program created by Congress.Before joining the Treasury Department, Kashkari was a vice-president at Goldman Sachs in San Francisco. Previously, he was an aerospace engineer at TRW Corp.In Minnesota, Kashkari will succeed one of the Fed’s leading doves, the group of Fed officials who favour keeping interest rates low as a way to fight unemployment.Kashkari’s views on monetary policy are not well known, but he is believed to be less dovish than Kocherlakota. He has expressed admiration for former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, describing him on Twitter as “the right leader when our country really needed it.”However, he has also colorfully highlighted the issue of persistently low inflation.“Maybe Fed should just admit: ‘We will keep rates at zero until inflation is staring us in the face (and then we will freak out),” he tweeted in May 2014.In August 2013, he suggested President Barack Obama should choose someone other than Yellen or former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers as Fed chairman, tweeting that he hoped Obama picked “someone unexpected.” Obama ended up nominating Yellen for the post.In his long-shot race for governor against Brown, Kashkari emphasized the need to address income inequality and said he was running an untraditional campaign.“The issues I’m focused on, they’re not Democrat or Republican,” Kashkari said in an AP interview in 2014.Kashkari at one point posed as a homeless man looking for work in Fresno, California to underscore his message on inequality.Jordan Haedtler, campaign manager for the Fed Up coalition, which is seeking to reform the Fed’s appointment process for regional bank presidents, said it was disappointing that Kashkari will be the third regional Fed bank president selected this year with ties to Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs.The selection is handled by the board of directors for each regional bank. Haedtler called it a process that “is dominated by corporate and financial elites.”___AP Economics writer Josh Boak contributed to this report. read more