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Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

Presenters: Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, Deputy Director For Coalition Operations; and Dan Senor, Senior Adviser, CPA
May 25, 2004 10:35 PM EDT
Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

            MR. SENOR:  Good afternoon.  I just have a couple of quick announcements.  General Kimmitt has an opening briefing and then we will be happy to take your questions.

 

            Today Ambassador Bremer attended a ceremony with the Iraqi minister of transportation for the official handover of the Ministry of Transportation to the minister and the ministry staff.  This marks the 13th ministry that has been turned over to the Iraqi people.  This is a process that began several months ago that will culminate on June 30th, by which point all Iraqi ministries will be in control of the Iraqi people.

 

            In addition, today Dr. Haider al-Ebadi, Iraq's minister of communication, and Ibrahim Hussein Ali (sp), Iraq's postmaster general, announced the opening of the International Service Center and the introduction of Iraq's new postal code system in a ceremony at the Baghdad International Airport air cargo terminal.

 

            Tomorrow there will be a ceremony -- tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m. there will be a ceremony marking the transition to full sovereignty of the Ministry of the Environment.  This transition has extra significance since the ministry was created by a resolution passed by the Iraqi Governing Council.  And again, this is tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m. at the ministry building.  Further details will come out on that.

 

            Finally, as we move forward to -- closer to June 30th and the handover and the formation of the Iraqi interim government, Ambassador Bremer continues to engage in wide consultations with Iraqi people, with Iraqi political leaders; as has Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. secretary-general's special representative here.  Just today Ambassador Bremer met with Dr. Adnan Pachachi from the Iraqi Governing Council and other members -- Sheik Ghazi, the current president of the Iraqi Governing Council, and other members of the Governing Council.

 

            General Kimmitt.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Thank you.

 

            Good afternoon.  The coalition continues offensive operations to establish a stable Iraq in order to repair infrastructure, stimulate the economy and transfer sovereignty to the people of Iraq.

 

            To that end, in the past 24 hours the coalition conducted 2,368 patrols, 33 offensive operations; we had 43 Air Force and Navy sorties and captured 60 anti-coalition suspects.

 

            The next release at Abu Ghraib will be on 28 May, and between 580 and 600 personnel will be released.  And on 4 June another release will occur.

 

            In the northern area of operations, coalition forces executed two cordon-and-searches in western Mosul against a former regime cell leader and weapons dealer.  Two of the primary targets were detained.

 

            And two days ago coalition forces conducted a cordon-and-search in eastern Mosul, targeting a former regime cell leader responsible for attacks against Iraqi security forces.  That target, too, was detained.

 

            In the north central zone of operations yesterday, the leader of the Turkoman Union was killed in a domestic dispute in Kirkuk.  Iraqi police are conducting an investigation into the incident at this time.

 

            In Baghdad, in the Karrada district this morning at 8:27, a suicide car bomb exploded outside the al-Karma (sp) Hotel in central Baghdad.  Two civilians received minor injuries, and there were no injuries to other personnel or to coalition forces.

 

            In the western zone of operations, the level of engagements within Al Anbar province has remained low and steady over the past several days.  Fallujah remains quiet, and there have been no cease- fire violations since 3 May.

 

            Yesterday 200,000 was awarded for the rebuilding of the Ar Ramadi soccer stadium, and 43,000 for the Ar Ramadi work and training center. Coalition forces continue to supervise Husaybah facility hardening project, the Fallujah and Ar Ramadi cleanup contracts, and the Ar Ramadi ICDC training and small-arms range.  All of these contracts will provide some measure of infrastructure improvements and job opportunities for the people in that area.

 

            There was a meeting at a coalition base camp east of Fallujah yesterday, between the coalition leadership, the Iraqi armed forces leadership and the commanders of the Fallujah Brigade.  The current state of training, equipping and capability of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps working in that area was discussed, as well as the familiarization with the security situation in the Al Anbar province.

 

            In the central south zone of operations, conditions on the ground would indicate that Muqtada's militia members are decreasing or ending   their activities in Karbala.  They are avoiding contact with coalition forces but are still conducting harassing attacks outside the city.

 

            They continue to attack coalition forces, however -- vicinity: Najaf and Kufa.  Yesterday 24 mortar rounds landed near coalition forces patrolling along the east side of the Euphrates River near the Kufa bridge.  Coalition forces identified and killed the forward observer for that mortar unit.

 

            Later, coalition forces on the west side of the Euphrates River near the Kufa bridge were attacked by small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire.  The attackers were firing from the technical college of Kufa, and a coalition patrol vicinity of the Saddam palace was attacked with small arms and RPG from the palace.  There were no coalition injuries or damage to equipment.

 

            In Najaf at midnight, five mortar rounds impacted near a coalition base camp.  Between 0545 and 0615, an additional 20 mortar rounds impacted in and around the same coalition base camp.  Later that morning, three to four individuals attacked a coalition patrol with small-arms and RPG fire near the governor's building.  And at 9:30, 20 mortar rounds impacted near the Najaf main Iraqi police station.  Again, no injuries or damage to coalition personnel, civilians or buildings.

 

            In the southeastern zone of operations, coalition forces received sporadic mortar and small-arms fire in al-Amarah.  Enemy forces continue to target the al-Amarah Cimic House, patrols and the base camp near the town.  There were no casualties as a result of these attacks.

 

            MR. SENOR:  And with that, we are happy to take your questions.

 

            Yes, ma'am.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Salah Rahman al-Rahim (ph), Al- Zawra newspaper.  I have two questions.  The first is for Mr. Senor and the second for General Kimmitt.

 

            Mr. Senor, what if your comment about the comments of President Bush that the U.S. forces will stay in Iraq with no predetermined date for their departure?

 

            Second question, for General Kimmitt.  There are rumors that the terrorist activities will increase during this period as we approach the sovereignty handover.  So have you put down a specific plan to secure the security situation during this period?

 

            Thank you.

 

            MR. SENOR:  On your first question, what President Bush has been saying for some time, as has Ambassador Bremer -- has said numerous times on the ground here in Baghdad -- is that coalition forces, American forces will be on the ground here until we achieve our goal, which is to hand over to the Iraqi people a sovereign, democratic Iraq   that is stable, that is at peace with itself, at peace with its own citizens, at peace with its neighbors, at peace with the United States of America and at peace with the world.

 

            We recognize that there is still a significant terror threat in Iraq, and we also recognize that the Iraqi security forces are not in a position to defend against that terror threat on their own right now.  So it may take some time to achieve the totality of the goal I just outlined.  But the president has been clear: we will stay till the job is done, but we will not stay a day longer.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  And I think the president's comments were reflective of the fact that as we build the Iraqi security forces, we want to take the time to do it right.  But I'm not sure you've got a time on a calendar when we can say it's ready.  So it will still take some time to train up the Iraqi security forces to where they are capable of operating independently and operating with the full capability to defend from the external threats and whatever internal threats remain in the country.  So as Mr. Senor said, we are committed to staying here long enough to complete the task, to let the Iraqi security forces have the sufficiency to stand on their own two feet.

 

            On your second question you asked, do we have a specific plan to address the potential for an increasing terrorist threat as we get closer and closer to sovereignty and possibly beyond that, the answer is yes.  That was one of the reasons and those are some of the factors which led to us keeping the force levels at about 135,000 American soldiers. The units that are now operating vicinity Najaf, Kufa, Karbala, Iskandariyah were forces that were already supposed to be back at their home bases in Germany, seeing their families, seeing their friends.  Those forces were kept on the ground because of the events of April as we saw the fights in  Baghdad, we saw the fights in Najaf and Karbala.

 

            But I think that the determination was also made, from the president all the way down to the commanders on the ground, that the situation is such that we probably need to have those additional troops stay for some time longer, so instead of the 105,000 American troops that we expected to have on the ground right now, because of that chance for an enhanced threat, increased threat between now and sovereignty and possibly for some time after that, that's why we've kept our force levels about 20,000 higher than that, to about 135,000 American troops.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes, ma'am?

 

            Q    I'm Deborah Horan from the Chicago Tribune.  First, I have a colleague down in Najaf who tells me that the Imam Ali Mosque was somehow damaged in fighting today.  And he was speaking to some of the U.S. forces that he is with down there, he's embedded, who told him that the damage came when two Iraqi factions were fighting each other. And I'm wondering if you might know who was fighting, how this mosque might have been damaged, whether it's true.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well, the first point, the coalition forces had no involvement in the damage to the Imam Ali Mosque.  We have heard  different reports of what caused it, whether it was fighting between two different factions inside the city or whether it was, as reported elsewhere, Muqtada's militia firing from the cemetery onto the area at the mosque to try to provoke outrage so they could blame it on the coalition forces.

 

            I know that we've got troops on the ground that are trying to handle the situation right now, but we saw and heard some reports of the damage that was done and we would -- on behalf of the entire coalition, we just can't tell you how much we decry the attempts by Muqtada's militia, Muqtada possibly himself, to violate the sacred holy shrines of the Shi'a religion for his own personal gain, for his own personal advancement.  We don't want to see that.  We'll do what we can to prevent it.  And we certainly will not allow that to go unanswered.  But nor will we be provoked into an incident near those shrines which might have the same outcome.

 

            Q     (Off mike) -- sorry, if I could just ask a different question.  I've been looking into the formation of the 36th Battalion of the ICDC and some people that I'm speaking to were telling me that they were provided by political groups and that they volunteered and that the formation of this battalion was somehow different from other battalions of the ICDC.  And I'm wondering if you can tell me a little bit about how it was formed and who's in it?  Who makes up the 36th Battalion?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Yeah, we can certainly do that after the press conference.  That was an event that happened back in December, reported widely, talked about thoroughly in here.  But that is -- but you have the fundamentals of the story correct and we'd be glad to sort of take you through it after the press conference.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes, ma'am?

 

            Q      (Through interpreter.)  Two questions; first one for Mr. Senor and the second for General Kimmitt.

 

            First question, let's go back to the issue of electricity.  You have previously said that the power sources have been improved, but I tell you that they are deteriorating.  If it is provided for 10 minutes, it is cut off for four hours.  Is this an improvement?

 

            Second question, let's turn to the Baghdad International Airport. Will it be turned over for the Iraqi sovereignty or will it still be under the control of the U.S. forces?

 

            Thank you.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Well, it's a fact that we are generating more electricity and have been over the past few months -- on average   generating more electricity than was generated before the war, at least; where at a minimum, we're at prewar levels and on most days are generating more.  And we are on track to generating -- meeting the country's demands by this summer, sometime this summer, which is 6,000 megawatts.

 

            Prewar levels were about 4,2(00) to 4,400 megawatts per day, which was really only two-thirds of the country's electricity power needs.  Saddam had a shortfall of a third.  And even among the power that he was generating, it was distributed in a way that was consistent with his overall manipulation of essential services, using essential services as a tool of oppression.  Some parts of the country got a lot of electricity, particularly areas within Baghdad and north and west of the -- of Baghdad, and some parts of the country got very little electricity.  Areas like Basra some days got two, three, four five hours, I understand from people who live down there.

 

            So we're trying to equalize the distribution and then also get distribution up, all in a system that is very brittle, that is suffering from 35 years of chronic underinvestment in the basic infrastructure and therefore creates a secondary problem, which -- it makes it very susceptible to attacks or just general maintenance needs.  And when there's a problem, there's no redundancy built into the system.  It takes that much longer to get it up and running again and get it working.

 

            For instance, right now, which is what you may be speaking to, we're doing part of the maintenance on the electrical infrastructure. And at any given point we'll pull down a thousand, 1,200 megawatts -- pull down power lines that equals a thousand, 1,200 megawatts, just to do the basic maintenance, the sort of maintenance that Saddam Hussein never did, which partly creates the problem of this susceptibility to attack or just a  general breakdown.

 

            And so the summer months, combined with some lines down for maintenance, may be why you are experiencing -- you, your neighborhood, your area may be experiencing some electricity shortfall right now.  But you should rest assured that overall we are generating nationwide, at a minimum, the same amount of electricity that was generated before the war.  We are on track to generating far more than that, by a third, by the end of the summer.

 

            And the U.S. taxpayer has dedicated billions of dollars, literally billions of dollars, on this electricity infrastructure reconstruction priority.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  But I think it's also important to state categorically that there are terrorists out there who are attacking  the infrastructure.  They recognize that the coalition has stood up here ever since we've been here and we promised that we will increase the benzene, we will increase the propane, we will increase the oil, we'll increase the electricity.  And they recognize that the combination of the brittle infrastructure and the promises we've made that what they want to do to demonstrate to the Iraqi people that the coalition doesn't live up to their promises is they will go out and attack the infrastructure.  They will attack the pipelines.  They will attack the electrical lines and knock them down.

 

            I think it's important for people to understand that that is happening.  It happens routinely.  The coalition responds quickly and tries to get those lines back up, those wires back up, those pipelines working again, but it goes to show what the terrorists and the enemy of the Iraqi people are doing to advance their attempts at derailing this process.

 

            Without going into too much rhetoric, if the electricity is not running completely, much of it has to do with the infrastructure attacks.  If sometimes you are standing in line for gas, it is because of the attempts on the part of the terrorists to stop the oil and the gas flowing.  That is the promise of the terrorists: they will deprive you of what we are trying to provide for you.  That is the promise of the terrorists as they try to push you off the track to sovereignty. And it is the attempt on the part of the terrorists to drive a wedge between the people of Iraq and the coalition, who has spent much of their fortune, much of their treasure, much of their national taxpayers' fortune to try to bring these infrastructure online so that your country can truly achieve its economic potential.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  About the airport?

 

            MR. SENOR:  Well, look, our goal is to ensure that Baghdad International Airport ultimately becomes the great world-class civilian and commercial international airport it has the potential to be.  I know international visitors who are experts in the area of civil aviation have visited the facilities there and commented that some of the facilities are among the most advanced in this part of the world.  So once we get to a situation where we are comfortable with both the logistical issues and the implementation of further equipment and ensuring that certain of the runway monitoring systems and equipment are more sophisticated and on par with other parts of the area -- of the airport that are more modernized, once we feel comfortable with the security situation, the airport will be reopened. And it will be in control of the Iraqi people.

 

            Charlie.

 

            Q     Thanks, Dan.  Charlie Mayer from NPR News.  General, can you comment on news reports today that General Sanchez will rotate out of here, be reassigned in the coming months?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Yeah.  We all will rotate out of here and be reassigned in the coming months.  General --

 

            MR. SENOR:  Including me.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Including Dan and including me.  But in the case of General Sanchez, yeah, I saw some of those reports. And I think they've got the story wrong.

 

            We typically keep our combat commanders in theater for a year. General Sanchez has been here since last April.  He took over the command of CJTF-7 in June, and his headquarters, the Fifth Corps headquarters, left in February.  General Sanchez and a small number of his staff, a very close, small number of his staff, were asked to stay on beyond February when the Fifth Corps headquarters departed, for a number of reasons.  One of the reasons is to take advantage of his experience and his institutional knowledge during this period of time, the transfer of sovereignty as the CPA goes away.

 

            We have always expected General Sanchez to depart sometime after sovereignty, transfer of sovereignty.  Our expectations -- my personal expectation was, like me, he would be departing sometime in the July time period.

 

            So the fact is there was a story that came out today, we haven't heard anything official from Army sources, but what you heard today was not inconsistent with the timeline that we had been working on.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Al-Mashraq (sp) newspaper.  The minister of Interior said that the coalition might have provoked the problem with Mr. Chalabi which led to the raid on his house, especially that it coincides with stopping the U.S. aid for Mr. Chalabi's party.  So how do you comment on that?  Thank you very much.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Well, let's take the two issues you raised one by one.  I'll start with the second one.

 

            It is my understanding that the U.S. Department of Defense made a decision to cease funding for the Iraqi National Congress based on a memorandum that was issued by the deputy secretary of Defense, Mr. Wolfowitz, because is not appropriate for the United States government to be funding individual political parties once Iraq has a sovereign democratic government.

 

            It was one thing for the United States government to be funding political parties, and particularly opposition organizations to Saddam Hussein, before Iraq had a sovereign democratic government, but after June 30th, the United Sates government will have a direct bilateral relationship with the Iraqi government and will not be dealing with individual parties anymore.  It will be president to prime minister,   president to president, Congress to cabinet.  I mean, the various officials of the United States government will have relationships with the various officials of the Iraqi government.  So that was the basis of the ceasing of the -- cessation of the funding for the INC.

 

            A completely separate issue was an investigation that was initiated by Iraqi authorities, by an Iraqi investigative judge, in coordination with Iraqi police, to pursue some charges related to individuals who -- my understanding -- have ties to Dr. Chalabi but not related to Dr. Chalabi himself.  And they pursued this process; they pursued an investigation.  They presented the investigation to Ambassador Bremer because he is the administrator, has the authority to refer cases to the Central Criminal Court.

            It is a matter of procedure and only procedure.  He is the one who has to sign when these cases are forwarded into the Central Criminal Court.  He only does it after the investigations have reached a culmination point, if you will; not a beginning point.  And he doesn't make a judgment on the individual investigation; he just makes a judgment about whether or not the investigation is sufficiently thorough and sufficiently robust and at a sufficiently complete or near complete stage to move into the Central Criminal Court.  He's made that decision on over 100 hundred occasions and this was not an exception.  And then once he makes that -- exercises that forwarding to the Central Criminal Court, it still continues to be in the hands of the Iraqis.

 

            You know, these charges that are flying around about abuse of law, one would think it would be an abuse of law and abuse of the rule of law if Ambassador Bremer elected to make an exception simply because some of the individuals being charged had political connections to an Iraqi political figure.  That would be inappropriate.  That's abuse of law.  But applying the same legal standard to everybody is, we believe, the way the new Iraq should have respect for law; and that is, if there is a case that has been developed by the Iraqi authorities and it is ready to go to the Iraqi Central Criminal Court, then it should go there and there shouldn't be exceptions made allowing standards that are different from the standards applied to other cases.

 

            Yes?

 

            Q     General Kimmitt, were there -- besides the suicide bombing today in Baghdad, were there any other attacks in Baghdad?  And when you say suicide bomber, there was a body found in or near the car?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  It is typical on these types of explosions you don't recover a body, but the reports from on the ground were that this vehicle was -- had just stopped when it detonated.

 

            There was another attack this afternoon, I believe about 16:15. Two or three RPG rounds were fired near Sadoon (sp) Square down by where Saddam was pulled down, the old Saddam statue.  Those rounds were fired at the Iraqi police station down there.  I believe two landed near the station, one landed inside the compound.  We had one American soldier who was training with the Iraqi police who was lightly wounded and medevaced from that location, and we believe that he'll be fine, return to duty quite soon.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes.

 

            Q     Khalid (ph), NHK.  General Kimmitt, what about al Qaim? Have you finished the investigation which you start?

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  What about --

 

            Q     About al Qaim.  Al Qaim.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Al Qaim?

 

            Q     Yes.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Yeah, no, we have not finished the investigation. We have started the investigation just yesterday.  We've appointed the investigating team and they're going to go out there.

 

            The location of that was not al Qaim as we understand.  In fact, it was about 85 kilometers southwest of al Qaim in the open desert, down by the Syrian border.  So we're going to let that investigation start in the next couple of days and try to get as much information as we can.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes.  Go ahead.

 

            Q     Jackie Spinner with The Washington Post.  Dan, this question is for you.

 

            The Iraqi governing president said today that the U.N. transition plan was, quote, "less than expected."  The council also issued a statement raising some concerns over who would ultimately control the armed forces after the transition.  How are these issues going to be addressed?

 

            MR. SENOR:  Well, I think it's premature, Jackie, to have a discussion or a speculative discussion about the U.N. process before we know what it looks like.  I mean, the Security Council members have just begun discussions and proposing drafts or proposing provisions for drafts for possible Security Council resolutions.  So until we see something that is in much more final form, I'd rather hold off on commenting.  But obviously, the Iraqi Governing Council should speak out if they have concerns, but I just think it's a little premature.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Hassam Mohammed (sp), War and Peace Newspaper.  Islamic clerics are very respected within the Iraqi  population.  They lately have held a meeting and announced that they do not have any connections with those who commit hijacking and kidnapping operations, and they informed after that they have received threaten from U.S. forces, after that meeting, that they paid them a visit and told them to give them any information they have with those kidnappers and they threatened them.  So how can you comment on this subject?

 

            Thank you.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Well, my comment on that subject would be that I certainly hope that didn't happen.  We certainly have a tremendous amount of respect for Islamic clerics as well, and we welcome the fact that they are distancing themselves from those that would hijack, those that would kidnap.  And if there was a situation where we had coalition forces talk to them and possibly threaten them, given the facts that you laid out, that would seem to be inappropriate.  I'd be very interested in getting that information, to see if we could follow up on that, to find out precisely the circumstances that you're referring to.

 

            We welcome greatly Islamic clerics who will stand up to the kidnappers, who will stand up to the beheaders, who will stand up to the hijackers, because we need more people in this country standing up to the terrorists and those that would commit such acts not only on coalition forces but on your fellow Iraqis as well.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Al-Zaman (sp), al-An (sp) newspaper.  General Kimmitt and Mr. Dan Senor, good evening.  Have you reached positive results these days regarding your discussions with the people of Karbala and Najaf and with Mr. Muqtada al-Sadr?  And is there a peaceful resolution to be reached with Mr. al-Sadr?  Thank you very much.

 

            MR. SENOR:  We would hope that there's peaceful resolution to be reached.  To this point, we have seen no progress.  A number of Iraqi notables have stepped forward and indicated a willingness and an interest to minimize bloodshed and bring this to a peaceful conclusion.  But we've  seen no progress.  We see good intentions.  We see no progress.

 

            Our conditions remain the same:  that Muqtada al-Sadr must disband and disarm his militia, and he must submit himself to justice. That has not changed.  And no matter where any discussions go, those two conditions will not change.  We want those conditions met, but we also want to minimize bloodshed.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  We also are optimistic about the direction that Karbala is taking.  Over the last couple of days we've seen reports that Muqtada's militia has moved out, that some of the Iraqi police are starting to move back in.  It's been quite quiet in Karbala over the last few days.

 

            In the next couple of days, if there is a significant Iraqi police presence inside the city, we would recommend you go down to Karbala, talk to the people of Karbala, ask them how they were treated by the coalition forces, ask them how they were treated by Muqtada's   militia, ask for yourself, report for yourself what happened inside that city.  I think most will come back with the conclusion that the coalition forces showed great respect for the holy shrines, where Muqtada's militia did not; showed great respect for the people of Karbala, where Muqtada and his people did not.  And when they left, Muqtada's militia left some very messages for the people, and it would be interesting for you to hear those messages.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Najim?

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Distor newspaper.  Two questions. Mr. Senor, the speech of President Bush said that the sovereignty of -- to be handed over to Iraqis will be complete.  And Mr. Colin Powell said that the Iraqi army and the ICDC will be under the control of the multinational forces.  There is a contradiction between these two statements.  How can the sovereignty be complete and how can the forces be controlled by you?

 

            Second question:  The draft of the U.S. and U.K. project to the U.N. demanded the help of the international society and Iraq.  So what form of help do you demand?  Is it financial aid or is sending forces to Iraq?  Thank you.

 

            MR. SENOR:  On your first question -- and I didn't see Secretary Powell's comments, but based on other statements from the administration, I think what he was saying was that there will be a multinational force here, of which the Iraq armed forces will be a member.  And it has been raised that if individual members or forces -- Iraqi security forces do not want to serve as part of that at a given moment, in a given operation, they can take issue with that. General Kimmitt can elaborate.

 

            But before that, let me just say that if you read President Bush's speech carefully, you'll see that he talked about sovereignty for the Iraqi people three times.  He mentioned sovereignty three times.  He feels quite strongly that on June 30th Iraqis take control. They will have their sovereignty.  It means control of their natural resources, including oil.  It means control of their foreign policy. It means control of their national security policy.  It means control of their economy and any revenues they generate as a nation.

 

            It doesn't mean that they won't need help from time to time, particularly in the initial period after they gain sovereignty, as other sovereign nations need help from other countries in a bilateral relationship that the United States has participated in assisting.   But the nature of the relationship is a bilateral relationship, not one of occupation.  It's one of government-to-government agreeing that there's a real partnership to be formed, there's a real partnership of security forces to move forward with, not -- no longer an occupation.

 

            GEN. KIMMITT:  Yeah, I couldn't agree more.  What you will see as we work out the command and control arrangements over the next couple of weeks, as we look beyond 1 July, I suspect you will be less concerned about control, command and those sort of military details, and what you'll see is a partnership, a joint partnership; as we have been working together for the past months, we will continue that partnership with the mutual effort of trying to achieve a safe and secure environment here for the people of Iraq.

 

            How that works itself out, that's for the technical experts to work out.  But I have no doubt that when those agreements finally come about, that there will be a satisfactory resolution between the coalition forces and the Iraqi forces so that we truly form multinational forces here in Iraq working together as a partnership side by side to make this place safe for the people of Iraq and for the children of Iraq.

 

            MR. SENOR:  Yes?  Last question.  Go ahead.

 

            Q     (Through interpreter.)  Al-Hurriyah (sp) newspaper.  Mr. Senor, there are questions about the trial to be held for the previous president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, and members of his regime.  Are there any details about these trials?  Thank you.

 

            MR. SENOR:  I would refer any questions about the trials to the Iraqi Special Tribunal, which is a body formed by the Iraqi Governing Council.  In fact, it was the Governing Council's first act, the formation of the Iraqi Special Tribunal to handle those cases.  There are international advisers involved with the Iraqi Special Tribunal, including some advisers from the United States Department of Justice. But it is the Iraqi Special Tribunal that would be handling the specifics on that.

 

            And finally I would just say, for those of you who have worked here, been in Baghdad for a number of months know one of our distinguished -- one of the distinguished members of our press office team, Jared Young, who has been staffing this International Press Center for you all for a long time.  He has been a shoulder that I'm sure many of you have cried on or punched at any given time when you were seeking information or expressing your various frustrations.  And it is his last evening in Baghdad, having been here for about nine months.  So I hope, for those of you who haven't had a chance, take a moment to say thank you to Jared, who is over at the side.

 

            Thank you everybody.  Good night.

 

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