Iraqi Wrestlers Will Train in United States
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 5, 2004 Iraqi wrestlers will train in the United States in preparation for this summer's games in Athens, Greece, the senior Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman said today at a Baghdad news conference.
Dan Senor said Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III, coalition administrator, announced today that the Iraqi Olympic wrestling team has been invited as a guest of the United States to train at the U.S. Olympic training facility in Colorado Springs, Colo. The team will leave for the United States within the next month. The gesture, Senor said, shows "just how far Iraq has come and where it is going."
"Eleven months ago, Iraqi Olympic athletes were literally tortured to death under the brutal regime of Saddam and Uday Hussein," he said.
Senor said there is ongoing progress in Iraq, despite continued violence. "On the one hand there is tremendous progress, but on the other hand attacks continue," he said, adding that postwar Iraq has good and bad days. "And we believe the bad days occur precisely because there are so many good days," he said.
Senor said as the coalition moves closer to June 30 and the handover of sovereignty to the Iraqi people, foreign fighters, domestic insurgents, and members of the former regime continue to attack because they have an enormous stake in the failure of the new Iraq. "So the more progress that is made, the more pressure they feel to drawf our efforts," he said.
He said it's important that the Iraqi people remain steadfast and "do not get intimidated by the attacks."
He noted that following the bloody attack Feb. 1 in Irbil, Kurdish political leaders made it "crystal clear" they would move forward with the implementation of the Nov. 15 political agreement. "They want to live in a free, democratic and independent Iraq, and they're not going to be intimidated by terrorists to that end," he said.
Senor also pointed to signs that Iraq's society is returning to normalcy and "re-emerging" on the world stage, adding that the country is open for foreign investment.
Senor reported that during the next G-7 economic summit, the country's finance minister will represent Iraq. He also noted that Iraqna, a new mobile telephone service provider, launched service in the central region. The company has invested $100 million to build its network infrastructure.
He said Iraqna's customers will be able to reach most of the world with international calling options. "This is a service that would have never been allowed in the former regime's Iraq." Ninety percent of the company's employees are Iraqi, he said.