Iraq Report: January 23, 2004

U.S. PRESIDENT LAUDS IRAQI GOVERNING COUNCIL HEAD.
U.S. President George W. Bush recognized Iraqi Governing Council President for the month of January Adnan Pachachi in his annual State of the Union address before the U.S. Congress and other dignitaries on 20 January. Bush called Pachachi, a former Iraqi foreign minister, “one of Iraq’s most respected leaders,” according to a copy of the speech posted on the U.S. presidential website (http://www.whitehouse.gov). “Sir, America stands with you and the Iraqi people as you build a free and peaceful nation,” he added.
Bush also defended the war in Iraq in his address, saying, “Already, the Kay Report identified dozens of weapons-of-mass-destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations…. Had we failed to act, Security Council resolutions on Iraq would have been revealed as empty threats, weakening the United Nations and encouraging defiance by dictators around the world.” Bush added, “For all who love freedom and peace, the world without Saddam Hussein’s regime is a better and safer place.” Bush called for a broader international effort in the rebuilding of Iraq and thanked the 34 coalition member states already involved in the effort. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

POWELL, PACHACHI BRIEF REPORTERS ON 15 NOVEMBER AGREEMENT.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Iraqi Governing Council President for the month of January Adnan Pachachi briefed reporters in Washington on 20 January about talks between U.S. officials and Iraqi Governing Council members on how to proceed toward elections in Iraq, the U.S. State Department reported on the same day (http://usinfo.state.gov).

Powell told reporters that he had spoken with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan who said that he was pleased with the 19 January meetings he had with Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) members in New York. Annan told Powell that he would soon take a decision regarding the IGC’s request for a UN assessment on whether it is feasible for national direct elections to be held in Iraq in the next few months.

Pachachi told the press that the IGC remains committed to the 15 November 2003 agreement and to maintaining the 30 June deadline for the transfer of sovereignty “to a directed or a chosen Iraqi government that reflects the desires of the Iraqi people and has a very broad representative base.” Pachachi also said that the media may have misinterpreted earlier statements he made at the White House in which he said that there would be no compromise made to change the 30 June deadline. “I think the word ‘no’ has been dropped [by the press] for some reason, and people thought we are ready to compromise,” he said. “That’s not the case at all.”

Regarding the elections, the IGC president said: “Because of the shortness of the period available to us, and because of the necessity of preparing for elections, there have been some doubts that elections can be held.” “Regarding the caucus, we hope to refine this process…. I think if it’s well refined, if it’s done properly, I think it will really enable the Iraqis to have a legislature that really represents their views and is widely representative.” (Kathleen Ridolfo)

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