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Powell to Attend September 13 Geneva Meet On Iraq

Powell to Attend September 13 U.N. Meeting on Iraq in Geneva

U.S. working with international community to broaden participation in Iraq

By Wendy S. Ross
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- Secretary of State Colin Powell will attend a September 13 meeting on Iraq in Geneva, Switzerland, with representatives of France, the United Kingdom, Russia and China, State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher announced September 9.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan called the meeting of the representatives of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, and will also attend.

Annan "wanted to get the group together for an informal discussion of Iraq," Boucher told reporters.

"The secretary-general felt it was good at this juncture, particularly with the General Assembly coming up" and the United States draft resolution on Iraq circulating among Security Council members, "to have a discussion with the Perm 5 and see if we can align the ideas a little bit more; get together not only in person, but get together conceptually on how to support the Iraqis," Boucher said.

"(I)t's a chance for the Perm 5 to get together and compare their ideas about how to move forward with Iraq, and talk a little about the resolution, and about the work the United Nations can do in Iraq, the vital role that they can play," Boucher said. "But above all, it's a chance to talk about how the Iraqi people are taking control of their lives, taking control of their sovereignty," and how that process can be continued and accelerated with the help of the U.S.-led coalition and the United Nations.

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Boucher pointed out that Iraqis now are running their own services, building their own security forces, delivering their own mail, and taking control of their own resources.

He said he expects the U.S. resolution on Iraq to be discussed at the Geneva meeting, but does not expect changes in the proposed text to be negotiated there.

Boucher also said the Bush administration welcomes the move by the Arab League to involve the Iraqi Governing Council in future Arab League proceedings.

"This demonstrates the growing acceptance of the Governing Council as representatives of the Iraqi people as Iraq moves forward to take over its own future and its own affairs," the State Department Spokesman said.

"There's also, we think, a growing acknowledgement that the Iraqi people, through the Governing Council and the ministers they've appointed, are taking more and more responsibility for their own resources," he said.

He pointed out that Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari is now in Cairo at the Arab League Conference. Secretary Powell spoke with him on September 8 to congratulate him on his new position, and discuss with him developments at the conference, Boucher said.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said September 9 that "Iraq is critical to winning the war on terrorism. It is a central front in the war on terrorism. And a peaceful, secure, and democratic Iraq will help bring peace and stability to that important region in the world that will help us defeat terrorism."

The United States, he said, is "working closely with the international community to broaden participation from nations beyond the more than 30 that are already participating in Iraq, both in terms of helping with security and helping with financial assistance, because this is about the people of Iraq and the future for the people of Iraq."

Briefing reporters on Air Force One as President Bush traveled to Florida, McClellan said "a good portion" of the $87 billion emergency spending request announced September 7 by President Bush, "will go towards improving the infrastructure" in Iraq, that, in turn will provide more resources for the future of Iraq.

McClellan noted that administration officials, at a background briefing on Iraq at the White House September 8, predicted that Iraq will generate $12 billion from its oil revenues in 2004 and then $20 billion in each of the two following years, 2005 and 2006.

When a reporter said this amount is considerably less than the Bush administration had expected prior to the war with Iraq, McClellan responded that "the infrastructure we found in Iraq was worse than we expected."

"[B]ecause you had an oppressive regime that was not open to the rest of the world, there were things regarding the infrastructure we did not know, regarding the electrical system, regarding the sewage system, regarding the water supply," he said.

The Saddam Hussein regime, for thirty years, was more interested in building palaces and weapons of mass destruction than in helping the Iraqi people, McClellan said, adding that he was still confident that weapons of mass destruction will be found in Iraq.

And President Bush, in a September 9 speech in Jacksonville, Florida, said, "Our war on terror continues. The enemies of freedom are not idle, and neither are we. This country will not rest, we will not tire, we will not stop until this danger to civilization is removed."

Saddam Hussein's holdouts and foreign terrorists, he said, "are desperately trying to throw Iraq into chaos by attacking coalition forces and aid workers and innocent Iraqis.

"And there's a reason. They know that the advance of freedom in Iraq will be a major cause of defeat for terror. This collection of killers is trying to shape the will of the civilized world. They're challenging the resolve of the United States of America. This country will not be intimidated.

"We are aggressively striking the terrorists in Iraq, defeating them there so we will not have to face them in our own country. We're calling on other nations to help Iraq build a free country which will make us all more secure. We're standing with the Iraqi people as they assume more of their own defense and move toward self-government. These aren't easy tasks, but they're essential tasks. And we will finish what we have begun. We will win this essential victory in the war on terror," Bush said.

"Our greatest security," the president added, "comes from the advance of human liberty -- because free nations do not support terror, free nations do not attack their neighbors, free nations do not threaten the world with weapons of mass terror. Americans believe that freedom is the deepest need and the deepest hope of every human heart. And I believe that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation."

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