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Khalilzad to lead search for new Iraqi regime
April 10, 2003 12:09 IST
Afghanistan-born US diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad will travel to Iraq in the 'next few days' to choose members of the Iraqi Interim Authority, US Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Los Angeles Times.
Khalilzad performed a similar assignment after Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan as President George W Bush's special envoy.
According to the LA Times, the first meeting of Iraqi Opposition leaders may be held next week at an airbase outside Nasiriyah.
'[Zal] has considerable experience in this kind of work,' Powell told the LA Times' Robin Wright. 'We saved Zal to go do this kind of work. He's remarkable at it. What he will do is [work] with the coalition commander, General [Tommy] Franks, who has responsibility for the country now that the regime is losing control, and we will work to find representatives of the different groups.'
'We'll start it in the region that we have the greatest control over, and the part of the country where people have now the greatest freedom to speak up and stand up,' Powell said. 'Who the delegates will be, I can't answer because we don't know yet. That's what Zal will be working on.'
Powell said the international community would have a role to play in Iraq's future. 'The president in his statement in Northern Ireland made the point that the UN has a vital role to play as did Prime Minister Blair. But we believe the coalition, having invested this political capital and life and treasure into this enterprise, we are going to have a leading role for some time as we shape this process,' the US secretary of state said.
'I think the people of Iraq will have confidence in us because of who we are and what we've done,' he told the LA Times. 'Now that they're seeing our young soldiers actually in their country and working, they realize we've come to help them, not to hurt them. So we will have a leading role, but we're not unmindful of the contribution that can be made by the international community for reconstruction for humanitarian aid, and because ultimately, if we're going to have the kind of government that I described earlier, it has to have international endorsement.'
'We will not stay a day longer than we have to,' Powell said. 'There's no desire on our part for there to be a long-term American presence in Iraq. We want to turn Iraq over to the Iraqi people, but we want to give the people of Iraq a government that they can trust.'