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Powell Predicts Smooth Turnover of Sovereignty to Iraqi Government
Questions concerning the situation in Iraq and the June 30 turnover of sovereignty dominated a June 18 roundtable interview of Secretary of State Colin Powell, but the secretary also responded to queries on Uzbekistan and the Middle East peace process.
Powell met in Washington with reporters from five regional newspapers. Addressing the preparations for returning sovereignty to Iraq, Powell said he is "impressed by the way in which the interim Iraqi government has started to function even before they have received full sovereignty," and added that "everything we've seen so far suggests it [the turnover of sovereignty] will go smoothly."
Iraqis Will Control All 26 Ministries by Week's End, Senor Says
With 15 of 26 Iraqi government ministries already under Iraqi control, Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) spokesman Dan Senor says the remaining 11 will be transferred by week's end.
"Today I can announce that by the end of this week, all remaining ministries will be turned over to the Iraqi ministers," said Senor during a June 21 press briefing in Baghdad. "So by this time next week, every single minister will have control of their respective ministry," he added.
Senor further noted that more than 1.3 million Iraqis work for the national government, "and by the end of this week, all of them will be reporting to Iraqi supervisors and Iraqi ministers."
Iraqi Bankers Meet U.S., International Financiers in New York, Washington
Representatives of Iraq's banks are meeting with U.S. and international financial experts in New York and Washington to be briefed on the latest banking practices and to come in contact with potential U.S. business partners. The visits are sponsored by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA).
"Reconstruction and modernization of the private banking sector is essential for economic growth in Iraq," said Kevin Woelflein, Senior Advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Finance with the Coalition Provisional Authority. "This visit has provided the delegates with a valuable opportunity to learn about modern banking practices and will help to make private banks the core of the future banking structure in Iraq." The delegation includes representatives from 12 privately owned Iraqi banks as well as the deputy governor of Iraq's Central Bank.
Powell Ties Iraqi Reconstruction to War on Terror
The establishment of a stable, democratic government in Iraq is a key step in the global war on terror, according to Secretary of State Colin Powell.
In a June 15 radio interview, Powell said, "Mr. Zarqawi is in Baghdad organizing efforts against the new government, against the coalition forces, against the people of Iraq... And if we can beat him here and put in place a democratic government resting on a solid foundation of law, freedom and democracy, it is going to put a lie to all of these terrorist
claims: that the United States is a bad country that means ill for Arab and Muslim lands."
The secretary said U.S. interventions in Kuwait, Kosovo and Afghanistan underscore how the United States is "freeing Muslims from dictatorships in the worst kinds of regimes. And we don't get that kind of credit. People like to criticize us without criticizing that which we have saved those populations from."
Bush Reviews Five-Point Plan for Iraqi Self-Government
President Bush outlined his five-point plan to return Iraq to self-rule and to rebuild its institutions in a speech to U.S. military Central Command personnel at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, June 16.
Listing the points, the president said: "We're handing over authority to a sovereign Iraqi government. We're encouraging more international support for Iraq's political transition. We're helping Iraqis take responsibility for their own security. We're continuing to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure, and we're helping Iraq move to free elections."
Bush told the U.S. soldiers that their missions of helping to bring democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan are "giving people an alternative to bitterness and hatred, and that is essential to the peace of the world."
"We have come not to conquer, but to liberate people," said Bush, "and we will stand with them until their freedom is secure."
Defense's Rodman Addresses Changing Iraqi Attitudes toward U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Rodman attributed the changing Iraqi attitudes towards Coalition forces to unreasonably high expectations following the quick military campaign. He said, however, that recent security problems were not a result of those changing attitudes but rather a concerted effort on the part of extremist groups to demoralize the Iraqi population.
In June 15 testimony before the House Government Reform Committee, Rodman said that despite the progress that has been made in rebuilding the infrastructure and political and economic institutions, "there is still some hardship and uncertainty. To some extent we may be the victims of our own success. After the quick triumph of our military campaign, Iraqis' expectations may have been excessively high."
He spoke of what General David Petraeus called the "man on the moon" syndrome: "If America can put a man on the moon, it can certainly get me 24/7 electricity."
Iraq Has Strong Farm Sector Potential, USDA Official Says
Despite past mismanagement of resources, Iraq has the land, water and human resources needed to successfully develop an agricultural sector, says the principal U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) official involved in Iraq.
However, the agricultural sector needs time and Iraqi government leadership to expand beyond its current state, which is "technologically still in the 1980s," said H. Lee Schalz, testifying June 16 before the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee on the status of agriculture and food needs in Iraq.
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