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Powell Wants to 'Speed Up' Iraq Reconstruction

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2004 – The United States wants "to speed up the flow of funds" into Iraq's reconstruction effort, the top U.S. diplomat said today.

"We want to rebuild the infrastructure, we want to create jobs, we want to show the Iraqi people that this money is being used for their benefit," Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told reporters in Baghdad. He said he'd spoken "quite a bit" about reconstruction matters with senior Iraqi officials and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq John D. Negroponte.

Reconstruction and security in Iraq, Powell explained, "are two sides of the same coin." By improving power, water and other services, he continued, Iraqis will be imbued "with a sense of safety" that "improves the security environment."

Powell praised the interim Iraqi government's "great courage and determination" in fighting terrorists and facing other challenges since the country achieved sovereignty June 28.

President Ghazi al-Yawar, Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and other interim Iraqi leaders are "determined to prevail over the insurgency that would deny the Iraqi people their hopes for a better life (and) their dreams of a safe future," Powell said.

It's important to know that Iraq's leaders are braving danger and "put themselves at risk every day," he noted. Their courage is both noteworthy and necessary, he pointed out, in order to confront the terrorists.

In Baghdad today, Powell said President Bush and other coalition leaders "remain firmly committed to the task that is ahead to help the Iraqi forces and the Iraqi government defeat this insurgency."

"We have to make sure," Powell emphasized, "that these insurgents understand that we will not be deterred." The terrorists "will be defeated," he said, noting there "can be no other option." The Iraqi people, he added, want and deserve freedom and democracy.

"We must not let outsiders -- or insiders of any kind -- deny the Iraqi people that which they richly deserve and that which they want," he asserted.

Nearing the end of a trip that had taken him through Eastern Europe and now the Middle East, Powell had met with Allawi July 29 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. and its coalition partners, Powell noted, will assist Iraq "to get on with the preparation for elections that will take place by the end of the year or no later than January of next year."

After that, he continued, a national assembly comes into being with a new national government "leading to the finishing of a constitution next year and then full elections."

A gathering of a national conference of Iraqis has prudently been pushed back two weeks, Powell observed, to allow more time for preparations.

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