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Powell: Post-War Iraq to Transfer Quickly to Iraqi Control

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 3, 2003 – Immediately after the Iraqi regime falls, U.S. and coalition military officials will assume responsibility for stabilizing the country, but soon after will transition to an "interim Iraqi authority," Secretary of State Colin Powell said today.

In the immediate "post-hostilities phase," military commanders will be responsible for stabilizing the country and providing security, finding and destroying weapons of mass destruction, and assessing infrastructure, Powell said. He addressed reporters after a meeting of NATO ministers and European Union officials assembled at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

That military leader will perform that job as the commander of the liberating force. But "we will quickly want to bring in individuals who can establish an interim Iraqi authority so that the people of Iraq can very quickly see that their own representatives are moving into positions of authority," Powell said.

The secretary added that international organizations, such as the United Nations, NATO and the European Union, would have active roles in post-war Iraq.

Powell noted that the United States and a few European nations had serious disagreements over using force in Iraq, "heated disagreements where we came to opposite conclusions on a very important issue of the day." He didn't mention specific countries, but the most vehement opposition to military action came from France and Germany.

Still, now that war has begun, he said, "we now must move forward and align ourselves again with the need to serve the Iraqi people.

"The people of Iraq deserve a government that is responsive to its needs, that reflects all of the dreams and hopes and aspirations of the Iraqi people," he continued. And it's U.S., coalition and international community collective obligation to ensure "that hope is not deferred or defeated."

Powell rejected a reporter's suggestion that U.S. diplomacy is failing. "U.S. diplomacy is alive and well," he countered before launching into a lengthy overview of diplomatic efforts U.S. officials made before starting military operations in Iraq.

"We used skillful diplomacy to get to the point of (U.N. Security Council Resolution) 1441, but diplomacy must be backed by force," Powell said. "Diplomacy is useless if one is not willing to use force to impose the will of the international community on a nation such as Iraq, which violated the will of the international community for 12 years."

The resolution, passed unanimously in November 2002, authorized "severe consequences" if Iraq failed to willingly disarm.

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