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Coalition, Iraqi Leaders Meet to Discuss Future of Iraqi Security

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 23, 2006 – The commander of Multinational Division Baghdad and key members of his staff met with governors and local leaders from Babil and Karbala provinces yesterday for the second time in as many months to discuss the security situation in their areas.

"This is a historic time in the history of Iraq," U.S. Army Maj. Gen. J.D. Thurman, commander of Multinational Division Baghdad, said. "We must work together to achieve the same common goal of a secure Iraq."

Though the two governors are from different areas, they both expressed the same optimism stemming from recent progress made by the Iraqi government in choosing a prime minister and his cabinet.

"We are looking forward to working with the Council of Representatives and the new government to continue the progress toward security in Iraq," Karbala Gov. Aqeel Mahmud Karim Al Khazali said.

He said he was especially appreciative of recent work by coalition forces in assisting local farmers with date palm spraying. Iraq's second-largest export had become infested with dubas bugs, which threatened to destroy the much-needed crop.

Thurman also focused much of the meeting on the provinces' progress toward assuming overall security control.

U.S. Army leaders at the meeting said their main goal is to support the government of Iraq and Multinational Force Iraq's initiative to transfer security to the provincial governments once police in a province are qualified and the security situation is improved.

Both governors at the meetings promised to work closely with coalition leaders to improve the security situation.

"We must work together to bring peace," Babil Gov. Salim Salih Medi said.

(From a Multinational Force Iraq news release.)

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