Powell talks with Iraq president

Wext: Monday, 02.August. @ 00:00:00 CEST


30. 07. 2004 - US Secretary of State Colin Powell has met the Iraqi president after arriving in Baghdad on an unannounced visit.

Mr Powell restated Washington's determination to stand by the Iraqi interim government.

The Iraqi president, Ghazi al-Yawer, said they had not discussed the latest Saudi Arabian plan to form an international Muslim force for Iraq.

He also said he regretted the delay in holding a national conference that was due to select an interim assembly.

The conference is now expected to be held in mid-August. Its postponement follows a surge in violence in recent days.

A BBC correspondent accompanying Mr Powell, Jill McGivering, says the visit is being seen in Baghdad as a gesture of support for an interim government facing continuing violence.

Mr Powell went on to meet American military commanders and diplomats in the Iraqi capital.

The AFP news agency reported four explosions in central Baghdad on Friday.

The US military has not identified the source of the explosions.

Mr Powell arrived as American troops continued operations in the flashpoint city of Falluja, which the US says has become a safe haven for militants since an Iraqi force was put in control in April.

Reports from the city, quoting hospital sources and police, say at least nine Iraqis were killed and more than a dozen wounded in clashes overnight between US soldiers and insurgents.

A doctor at the city's general hospital told Reuters news agency that some of the injured were in a serious condition after the fighting.

Muslim force

Mr Powell's visit was kept a closely guarded secret right until the last minute.

On Thursday, Mr Powell met Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi in Saudi Arabia, where both gave a cautious welcome to a Saudi proposal to send Arab or Muslim forces to Iraq.

Foreign ministers from Algeria, Bahrain and Tunisia on Thursday discussed the possibility of sending troops to Iraq.

The talks in Tunis were attended by Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, and the Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa.

Islamic militants have threatened to retaliate against any country which contributes to the force.

Source: BBC

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