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Rebuilding Iraq Should Be International Effort, Says Powell

By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2003 – The rebuilding of Iraq should be an international effort, Secretary of State Colin Powell said in an interview from Baghdad today.

Rebuilding a country after 30 years of dictatorship requires many resources, Powell told CNN's "Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer." The United Nations has a number of agencies that can help the people of Iraq with humanitarian needs, he added.

Though some 30 nations already are lending assistance in Iraq, the secretary said he believes other countries might find it easier to participate either with military or reconstruction activity if there were a broader U.N. mandate.

Powell said such a mandate also would be "a vote of confidence for what the Iraqi people are doing. They're hard at work, it's very, very impressive, and I'm very encouraged by what I've seen."

Disagreement between the United States and France over returning full authority and sovereignty to the Iraqi people has to do with timing, said Powell. France has suggested a quick turnover -- perhaps as soon as a month, he added. But Powell said the Iraqi Governing Council isn't yet ready.

The last thing the United States wants to do is "set the Iraqis up to fail," the secretary said. He noted the council needs time to bring ministries up to speed, to man them, to write and ratify a constitution, and to hold elections.

The United States wants to turn the government over to the Iraqi people with an Iraqi leadership that has been elected by the people, said Powell. U.S. and coalition partners want authority to go to the Iraqi people as soon as possible, and "don't want to stay one day longer."

Powell spoke of U.S. and coalition successes. "Saddam Hussein is gone," he said. "That awful regime is gone, that threat to the region is gone. A new democratic Iraq will arise. It will take a lot of work, a lot of money and a lot of good will, but it will happen."

The secretary said he was pleased to help the Iraqi people put together a government they can be proud of -- "a government that can never again be called a dictatorship, but rather a government that can be a model for this region and the world."

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