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Bremer Prepares to Return to Iraq, Continues Discussions

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12, 2003 – Following meetings with President Bush and his advisers, Ambassador Paul Bremer will go back to Baghdad and continue discussions with the Iraqi Governing Council.

In a White House press conference, Bremer, the coalition administrator in Iraq, said the discussions centered around two questions: How does the coalition win the war on terrorism in Iraq, and how should the move proceed toward a sovereign Iraqi government?

"I'll be taking (the governing council) a message from the president that he remains steadfast in his determination to defeat terrorism in Iraq and steadfast in his determination to give the Iraqis authority over their country, authority they're already beginning to assume very quickly in the area of security and in the area of running the Iraqi ministries," Bremer said.

He noted that this has been a "very intense period" politically with the supplemental bill passage, the Madrid donors' conference for Iraq and the security situation in the country. Bremer said the U.N. Security Council resolution deadline of Dec. 15 for setting a timetable to write and approve an Iraqi constitution also complicates things.

"There's a lot going on, and we need to pull this all together and integrate it into a plan going forward, and that's what I'll be talking to the governing council about," Bremer said.

The ambassador said the governing council is taking on more responsibilities. He said the ministers are running the government and are responsible for formulating budgets, offering policies and hiring personnel. "I have every confidence that we will be able to work with the governing council and with the ministers, going forward," Bremer said.

He would not comment on the specific proposals being discussed, and he emphasized that the options are the council's responsibility. "The governing council itself has a number of plans they've been discussing," he said. "And it was useful for me to come back and reflect to the president and his advisers what those options might be. They're not my options, they're options put forward by the governing council. I will now go back and reflect the president's and his advisers' views on the path forward."

Bremer said the stakes are high in the war on terror in Iraq. "It is a tough situation," he said. "I have said repeatedly in my discussions that I am completely confident and optimistic about the outcome in Iraq, but we will face some difficult days, like the day when we had the attack on the Italian soldiers in the south. We're going to have difficult days ahead because the terrorists are determined to deny the Iraqis the right to run their own country. We're not going to let them get away with that."

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