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Powell Praises Hungarian Contributions in Iraq, Afghanistan

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 28, 2004 – Iraqis will secure a better future for themselves "only if the coalition stays together, only if the coalition provides the kind of support that the Iraqi people are asking us for and they need," the top U.S. diplomat said on Hungarian television July 27.

About 300 Hungarian troops serving in Iraq alongside U.S. and other coalition forces "are standing fast" in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell pointed out during a Budapest TV interview.

Powell, currently on a trip through Eastern Europe and the Middle East, said Hungarian troops "are doing a terrific job" in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hungary recently decided to increase its military presence in Afghanistan to reach a total of about 150 troops.

Terrorists have threatened harm to coalition countries that supply troops and other assistance to Iraq. Spain, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and most recently, the Philippines, have decided to pull their troops out of Iraq.

Spain was the victim of a terrorist commuter-train bombing in Madrid on March 11 that killed 190 people and injured 1,600. Afterward, a newly elected Spanish government decided to pull its troops out of Iraq. The Philippines recently withdrew 50 troops from Iraq in order to save the life of a hostage, who was subsequently released.

Kidnappings and violence continue in post-Saddam Iraq almost 14 months after the toppling of the Baathist regime.

In Hungary, Powell observed that Iraqis "need security" and "the help of the international community" to quell the violence and establish freedom and a democratic government. "We must not allow insurgents, those who will use bombs and kidnappings and beheadings, to triumph," Powell said.

The insurgency in post-war Iraq, Powell conceded, "is more intense than we had expected." However, he insisted, "that is not a reason to say that we are wrong or to leave or to break up our timetable."

Now is the time, Powell urged, "to help the Iraqi people build up their own forces, so that ultimately Iraqi forces can take care of security for the nation."

Powell had no sympathy for Saddam, noting that "no more mass graves are being filled" with the former dictator's victims. Saddam now sits in prison awaiting trial for his crimes.

The former dictator, Powell pointed out, had violated numerous U.N. resolutions, invaded Kuwait, used poison gas on Iranian troops and on his own people, and had thousands of his countrymen murdered.

And, Powell said, he was "not going to apologize" because the United States and its coalition partners "took Saddam Hussein out (of power) and we are putting in place a democratic system."

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