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Image of Pentagon oval   United States Department of Defense.
News Transcript

Presenter: Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, Deputy Director For Coalition Operations; and Dan Senor, Senior Adviser, CPA
Friday, May 28, 2004

Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing

MR. SENOR: General Kimmitt has an opening briefing, and then we'll be happy to take your questions.

GEN. KIMMITT: 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 2,044 patrols, 27 offensive operations, 31 Air Force and Navy sorties, and captured 44 anti-coalition suspects.

There were 617 detainees released today from Abu Ghraib. While there were reports of gunfire directed at detainees, further investigation determined that this was nothing more than celebratory gunfire.

In the northern area of operations this morning coalition forces conducted cordon and search south of Hammam al Alil targeting anti- coalition forces associated with Khalid and Rayeed Ayeed Ahmad al- Jaburi (ph). Six suspects were detained, along with several documents, CDs and papers.

In the north-central zone of operations yesterday morning coalition forces conducted a raid on the home of suspected anti- coalition forces in Balad. Four Iraqis were detained and 15 rounds from a sniper rifle were seized. In Baghdad yesterday, coalition forces conducted a raid to capture Sheik Diachi (ph), a known weapons dealer. The target was detained, along with one additional individual suspected of anti-coalition activities. One AK-47 and machine gun ammunition were also confiscated.

Two days ago, coalition forces conducted a raid to capture Abu Abdullah, a suspected anti-coalition force cell leader and IED-maker. Coalition forces detained 25 individuals, to include the target, at a car lot in southern Baghdad. All 25 detainees and 15 vehicles were taken to a coalition base camp facility for further investigation.

In the western zone of operations, coalition forces detained 14 Iraqis while conducting route clearance operations southwest of Hadithah. The 14 Iraqis were detained because they had artillery fuses along with casings and copper wires. All 14 have been taken to the Hadithah police station for further investigation.

Two days ago a four-man television crew was taken hostage in Fallujah. All members of the television crew were released today safely after being detained by anti-Iraqi forces. The television crew was attempting to produce field reports from within the city of Fallujah. The employees of the media organization were released unharmed.

The crew had been advised not to go into the city, but against the advice of coalition forces, the crew went into the city and was subsequently detained by anti-Iraqi forces. Under the supervision of coalition forces, the Fallujah Brigade facilitated the release of these individuals through local resources and cooperation with concerned residents of the city.

In the central-south zone of operations, the situation in Karbala remains relatively stable. Yesterday coalition forces disseminated 50,000 leaflets in Karbala advertising the 1st Armored Division weapons buy-back program. Over the past 24 hours, there have been five attacks against -- from anti-coalition forces in and around Kufa, although Najaf remains quite quiet.

Today at 8:00 in Kufa, coalition forces conducting a traffic control point on the east side of the Euphrates River received RPG, machine gun and small arms fire. Coalition forces observed four attackers armed with AK-47s run into the palace across the river and no U.S. injuries or damage to equipment. Also at 8:00, coalition forces conducting a reconnaissance were attacked by rocket-propelled grenades outside a coalition base camp. The patrol returned fire and captured three enemy personnel.

Also this morning, five mortar rounds impacted south of the coalition base camp, and at 11:30 11 mortars impacted north of the base camp again. At 9:55 a coalition patrol received RPG and small arms fire near Kufa, but in general there was no activity in the Najaf side of the city.

In the southeastern zone of operations, an Iraqi police station was attacked by tribal members northwest of Basra. Iraqi police detained two individuals involved in the attack. Coalition and Iraqi security forces responded and the situation has remained quiet, but the region is still being patrolled to deter further attacks.

MR. SENOR: And with that, we'll be happy to take your questions. Charlie?

Q Thank you, Dan. Charlie Mayer from NPR. Do you have any comment about the Governing Council's selection of Ayad Alawi to be the next prime minister?

MR. SENOR: Sure. As you know, we've been saying for some time that Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. secretary-general's special representative here, has been engaged in consultations, wide consultations, across the country. Ambassador Bremer and the coalition have been engaged in consultations. And --

GEN. KIMMITT: I think we're having some problem with translation.

Q No translation.

MR. SENOR: There's no translation? (Pause.) Okay. We'll come to it again. Charlie, sorry about that.

As we've been saying, Mr. Brahimi, the U.N. secretary-general's special representative here, has been engaging in consultations throughout the country as he works to advise on the formation of an interim government. Ambassador Bremer has been engaged in consultations as well. And as part of this process, my understanding is, Mr. Brahimi has heard from thousands of Iraqis and well over a hundred different groups and organizations. It's part of a very healthy and democratic process where many individuals and many Iraqi groups make their voices heard on the type of person or the specific person or the profile of a candidate for prime minister that they would like to see.

And the Governing Council apparently has made such an endorsement earlier today. They've expressed their view on who they would like to see as prime minister, and a formal announcement will come, presumably, from Mr. Brahimi in the days ahead.

Q (Off mike.)

MR. SENOR: Yeah?

Q Does that mean yes, he's been chosen? And secondly, the attacks in Kufa, or the exchanges, are those a violation of this -- I know you're not calling it an agreement, but this offer that Sadr made yesterday?

MR. SENOR: Any questions about who has been chosen to be prime minister, I would refer you to Mr. Brahimi and the United Nations because they're going to be making a formal announcement in the days ahead in terms of who they're recommending. As I said, many Iraqis and many Iraqi organizations -- trade unions, teachers' organizations, I mean, provincial councils; Mr. Brahimi's traveled the country -- have made recommendations, and today the Governing Council made a recommendation.

We think the process is very healthy, where it gives those individuals who will be working towards the formation of a government the opportunity to travel the country and hear Iraqis out on who they would like to see. And then based on all this input, they begin to formulate a -- we begin to formulate a decision. And Mr. Brahimi is leading that process, and he will make a formal decision, he has said, I think by the end of the month, and let's wait for that to happen.

GEN. KIMMITT: Muqtada al-Sadr was very clear that there would be no armed manifestations in Najaf, and that includes in our mind the city of Kufa as well. While it has been clear, while it has been quiet in Najaf, these are -- would appear to be violations of that agreement that he signed his name to.

Now these are small incidents that don't seem to be endemic. We can't really tell you if these are characteristic of a larger group splitting away from Muqtada or if it's just some of the groups that haven't gotten the word. So we are generally sanguine about what this represents. It could take a couple of days before the true cease-fire that he offered holds, but we'll wait and see and we'll continue to respond as and when necessary.

MR. SENOR: Yeah, just to follow up, we viewed yesterday's development as a very positive step, very constructive, but we said it will take some time here to see how it fleshes out. The macro-trend continues to be positive. As General Kimmitt said, these individual incidents, we need to make a determination whether or not they are just isolated incidents that are the exceptions, or whether or not they are symptomatic of a larger problem. But right now we continue to be hopeful and cautiously optimistic on the macro-trend.


Q James Hider from The Times. Dan, does that mean you're saying that the coalition has not been officially informed of Mr. Brahimi's choice of a new government and prime minister?

MR. SENOR: Well, what it means is that Mr. Brahimi has consulted with us. And he has been consulting with Iraqis, he has been consulting with the secretary-general, and he has kept us apprised, and we have consulted back and forth and made suggestions and made recommendations. It is a very interactive process. But really Mr. Brahimi has been charged with the lead role in this process, and so it is at his initiative.

Q He hasn't told you yet who he's chosen?

MR. SENOR: I'm not going to comment on discussions Mr. Brahimi has with Ambassador Bremer. I'm just telling you that this is a very fluid process. It is the product of meetings that Mr. Brahimi has had all over the country. And he obviously touches base with the coalition and keeps us apprised directionally where he's heading, but it really is his initiative and he's leading the process. And he will make a formal announcement and a formal recommendation to the secretary-general.


Q Dan Springer, Fox News. General Kimmitt, can you tell us all you know about the attack yesterday on the Iraqi Governing Council member who was coming back to Baghdad from Najaf, Salama al-Khafaji. And also, can you talk about any progress you've made in getting a handle on the groups that are doing these assassination attempts and successful assassinations?

GEN. KIMMITT: I really don't have much more to add to what has already been coming across the news. She was returning from Najaf last night around Yusufiya. There was an attack on her vehicle. We understand that there has been a second body recovered -- one body from the actual incident, another body that was recovered from a canal. There are still some unconfirmed reports whether her son was actually kidnapped or what his current status is.

So we're letting this develop. We just don't have a lot of solid information on this right now. The Iraqi police has got the lead for this, and most of the information we have received has been from the Iraqi police and, frankly, from the news press as well.

With regards to the people doing it, it continues to be our going-in assumption that this is part of an overall plan that is being conducted by groups such as the Zarqawi network, who are focused upon trying to derail this process. Now, we have no direct evidence that Zarqawi himself was involved in this particular assassination attempt because, first of all, we don't know if it was truly an assassination attempt or if this was just a highway robbery. But assuming it was directed against a Governing Council member, that would be characteristic of a number of different organizations whose purpose is to try to push the whole process of moving towards June 30th off the side of the road.

And it may well be that this process continues not only between now and June 30th, but as the new government comes in and is trying to get their feet on the ground, there may be an attempt on the part of terrorists and other insurgent groups to try to stop those groups as they are getting their feet on the ground, getting the government established.

Q If I can follow up, do you feel like you're making any progress at all in tracking down these individuals or groups? You know, you had that assassination back in September, and you've had another one 10 days ago, and now an attempt, we presume, just yesterday.

GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah, I don't think that we're going to be satisfied with the progress until these are totally turned off. So no, we're not satisfied with the progress right now. We continue to work this every day. We have the hardest working intelligence analysts in the world looking at this and other like problems 24 hours a day. But until we find that day when these are no longer happening, we won't, one, suggest that we're proud of our progress, or two, that the job is over.


Q Evening gentlemen. Coalition forces detain Iraqi suspects based on, you know, whatever charges are at hand and they put them in prison and so on. Has there been any steps taken to limit the freedom or monitor the activities of the Iraqi Governing Council member who has been accused of espionage?

MR. SENOR: Which Governing Council member has been accused?

Q Ahmed Chalabi.

MR. SENOR: Who has accused him?

Q Well, according to media reports that I've read, officials in Washington and --

MR. SENOR: On-the-record officials or anonymous sources?

Q From what I've seen, it's been anonymous sources.

MR. SENOR: Okay. Thank you.

Q Thanks. Mark Stone, ABC. General, any updates on the wedding -- so-called wedding party investigation? Have you managed to iron out the discrepancies that were -- that you had?

And secondly, could either of you comment on The New York Times report today of mass looting of so-called valuable equipment -- metal and that sort of thing -- from Iraq to Jordan? More worrying, I think the IAEA has said that some of this material includes sensitive stuff that's linked to weapons of mass destruction. I think some material actually ended up in Rotterdam, according to this report. Is it not your responsibility to ensure stuff like this is not looted?

GEN. KIMMITT: On the wedding party, the investigation has started. We have two senior officers involved in the investigation. They are starting an investigation. I believe they're about 24 to 48 hours into the investigation. At this point, they haven't come back with any conclusions or determinations, but we'll keep you informed as the investigation moves on.

Q Sorry, did you say it's only 24 -- 48 hours into the investigation?

GEN. KIMMITT: About 48 hours since they have been appointed and have now started the process of the investigation.

Q So it takes quite a long time to get the investigation going?

GEN. KIMMITT: Usually does. Usually takes a couple of days to start the investigations, and I don't think it was any earlier than Tuesday before the final -- before the determination was made that yeah, we need to have an investigation.

MR. SENOR: On the other issue, we are, obviously are -- the respective ministries that deal with this matter are very aware of the problem, and we work to guard any areas or sites where weapons may be stockpiled or equipment may be stockpiled -- certainly metal scraps that would be stockpiled -- that could be contaminated in any way, when we are aware of them.

I'm not saying that we or the respective ministries are aware of every single site that has contaminated materials, but certainly those that we are aware of we guard, and when it's brought to our attention we look right into it and try to protect them right away.


Q (Through interpreter.) Two questions. The first question is for Dan Senor, the second question for General Kimmitt.

Mr. Dan, the issue of creating the transitional government and transferring sovereignty on the 30th of June -- the selection of the government will be through three different -- from three different aspects: the Governing Council, CPA and the U.N. News organizations have reported that individuals have been selected; Mr. Ayad Alawi will be the prime minister in the transitional government. This is one side. Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, through a press conference that was conducted a few minutes -- a few hours ago, stated that the Governing Council has given recommendations. Well, the coalition forces are responsible for the situation in Iraq. How do you view Mr. Ayad Alawi's receiving this position and the expansion of the Governing Council? What is your role in the selection of the government? That is one question.

For General Kimmitt. You have spoken a little while ago about the process of the arrest in the northern area, the names Ahmad and Ayeed Jaburi (ph), and their having documents. What are the jobs of the these people? Who arrested them? And can you please provide more information about this? Thank you.

MR. SENOR: On your first question, Mr. Brahimi has the lead role right now in recommending to the United Nations, recommending to the secretary-general an interim government for Iraq to take over on June 30th. It's a consultative process. We are involved in the process. The Iraqi people are involved in the process. And during that process, many organizations and many individual Iraqis are consulted. As I said before, Mr. Brahimi has traveled the entire country, met with political leaders and civic leaders, professional leaders, organizations, grassroots organizations. Many of them have made recommendations; many of them have made endorsements about the type of leadership they would like to see. The Governing Council today has done that as well.

GEN. KIMMITT: On the six persons that we picked up in the northern area of operations, that was just south of Hammam al-Alil. I don't know what the particular reasons were, what intelligence drove coalition forces to picking up these six suspects. But these were conducted by coalition forces based on intelligence that was provided probably from a number of sources. And whether they were suspected in producing IEDs, car bombs, firing mortars at coalition bases, I can't answer that. But I'll try to find that information out and get back to you.

MR. SENOR: Najim?

Q Thank you. Najim Rubaie from Distor. My first question is for Mr. Dan. You say that we search for true results for the situation in Najaf. Do you agree that the establishment of a new court to relook at the issue of Muqtada Sadr and that this council will be open to the public?

The second thing is for General Kimmitt. You stated that 50,000 -- for buying weapons in the city of Karbala. What is that project, and what is the cost of this project? Is this for the area of Karbala only or for other areas in Iraq as well?

MR. SENOR: On your first question, Najim, we have said for some time that Muqtada al-Sadr must disband and dissolve his illegal militia; that he must submit himself to justice. As I said yesterday, Muqtada al-Sadr has an obligation to meet the requirements in the Iraqi arrest warrant. Our position is unchanged in both of those conditions. Both must be met. We think it is critical that his illegal militia, which has been involved in terrorizing parts of southern Iraq, must be dissolved. We believe that if there is an arrest warrant against Muqtada al-Sadr, he must face justice. He must submit to the justice system. We continue to believe that.

Q Did he attack --

MR. SENOR: All we saw yesterday in Najaf -- hang on, let me answer your question. All we said yesterday was we have seen Muqtada al-Sadr take a positive step in trying to reduce tensions in the holy city of Najaf. We think it is that, a positive step. We think it is a first step, but it is not a solution to the broader problem. So let's wait and see what happens here in the days ahead.

We are not going to engage in hypothetical scenarios. He said that he wants to reduce tensions. It's an indication that he wants to reach a peaceful resolution. We want to reach a peaceful resolution. Can this be done? It remains to be seen, but the initial signs are positive and those continue. Those initial signs continue today. Today we continue to be cautiously optimistic about the direction this situation is heading.

GEN. KIMMITT: We dropped 50,000 leaflets in Karbala, spreading the word within the city of Karbala that we would be willing to buy back weapons, get them off the street. We found that to be a very, very successful program, most recently up in Sadr City as we talked about last week, where about two-and-a-half million dollars was spent buying back over 4,000 AK-47s.

We know over the past few weeks that there has been some violence in Karbala. Now that Muqtada's militia has left, it is important for us to do follow-up actions. And one of the follow-up actions, the consequence-management actions, is to try to reduce the number of weapons inside that city, and that will be to facilitate and assist the Iraqi police.

Now the particular question, does that just apply to the people inside Karbala? That's our main focus, but I would suspect that anybody who comes into Karbala with a weapon and is willing to hand it back and sell it back to coalition troops, there will be money available for them. The fewer weapons that we have on the streets above those that people carry in their homes, the one weapon that they have in their homes -- there's too many weapons on the streets, and we just want to get them off the streets to reduce the amount of violence and reduce the amount of instability.


Q (Through interpreter.) Are there prices for these weapons? Are there heavy weapons or are there light weapons?

GEN. KIMMITT: I don't know the particular prices. I'd have to see the leaflet. I know that when we did this in Sadr City last week, the prices were above the black market prices, so I think that most of the people down in Karbala will realize that they'll get a good price for their weapons.

There will be money offered not only for small arms, but for heavy weapons. We would enjoy seeing heavy weapons off the street. Mortars are not needed for self-protection. Machine guns are not needed for self-protection. And the more that we can get out of the -- off the street and out of the hands of potential mischief-makers, the better that is for not only the coalition forces, but the people of Iraq and the children of Iraq as well.

MR. SENOR: Go ahead, Ed.

Q Ed Wong from The New York Times. What's the long-term plan for trying to get someone like Muqtada al-Sadr to disband his militia, given the difficulties that you've had over the last year getting various political parties and anti-American insurgents to disband their armed groups?

MR. SENOR: On the political parties -- and I'll let General Kimmitt talk to how we'll deal with a confrontational militia -- but the political parties that have militias I think are distinct from militias that are operating illegally, militias that are engaging in a confrontational manner with the coalition or with the Iraqi people.

It's important to remember that a lot of the political parties you're referring to that have militias fought in many cases side by side with the coalition in liberating Iraq. Many militias for years were leading the opposition to Saddam Hussein. So in the case of many of these militias, they have a similar vision for the future of Iraq that the coalition does, which is to have it free of the totalitarian brutality that existed here under Saddam Hussein and build a democratic, sovereign nation here that's at peace with itself, at peace with its neighbors, at peace with the international community.

What's important here, Ed, is that for those militias, we wind them down. That's clear. It's our policy. It's in the Transitional Administrative Law. It's in the interim constitution that no security force can operate outside the national government.

But what's important with those respective militias is that you give them the opportunity to wind down with dignity; that those members who have served courageously in opposing Saddam Hussein and on behalf of the cause to liberate Iraq have the opportunity to either reintegrate into the national security forces or find employment elsewhere or retire. And in the case of reintegrating into the national security forces, there are opportunities for many of them, that many of them are highly skilled to serve in the national security forces, so long as they do so not representing a particular political party or representing a particular cause or region. They have to serve as Iraqis who are working to protect and defend the entire nation.

And that's been our policy, and we are actually coming quite close to working with the leaders of the respective political parties and militias to implement this policy full stop. And we intend to begin to engage in the implementation quite shortly. We'll have details for you when that occurs. But that's been our policy. Now we're beginning to work on implementation. It's challenging for all the reasons I cited. Many of these groups have been around for a number of years and have worked hard to liberate Iraq and work closely with us. And we don't want to disband them or wind them down in a way that is either disrespectful or injurious economically, socio-economically, to their members.

GEN. KIMMITT: Illegal militias, anybody who raises arms against the Iraqi people or against coalition forces will be responded to appropriately.


Q (Name inaudible) -- Romanian Radio. Mr. Senor, you said that different groups -- on the question of the prime minister -- advanced different names, different proposals. What was the CPA's proposal, if there was one?

MR. SENOR: I'm sorry, what was the first part of the question?

Q You said that different groups --

MR. SENOR: Oh, sure.

Q -- throughout the country advised different -- and I'm interested who does the CPA want?

And, General Kimmitt, considering that now you have a truce with the Mahdi militia, and recently there was the truce in Fallujah, how did that change the situation, let's say, from a hundred attacks per day, or engagements, one month ago? How much did it go down?

MR. SENOR: The coalition doesn't have a specific candidate for any one of these offices. As I said, Mr. Brahimi is taking the lead on this. You know, we have opinions, we make recommendations on what the skill set, what the appropriate skill set is for various positions based on our experience here. You know, Mr. Brahimi has said that the right profile for any of these positions are decent, honest, competent, ethical Iraqis. We share that view. And we have a sense of what skill sets, as I said, would be appropriate for the various ministries and the leadership. And so we engage in discussion with Mr. Brahimi on that as he fleshes out various candidates. But it's really -- he's really been on the lead on it.

GEN. KIMMITT: On the question of the number of attacks since we have started seeing the winding down of confrontations in both Fallujah and among Muqtada's militia, I think we've talked at length that during the period from about 1 January -- really about 15 December to about 1 April, we were ranging in roughly 18 to 22 attacks per day. We then had that period in April, starting about the 4th of April, where we were starting to see the numbers kick up, as you would say, up to about a hundred per day -- different engagements; IEDs on the roads, small-arms attack, mortar firing, rocket firing, those types of attacks. Those types of engagements have been reduced measurably since about the 1st of May, when it looked like the Fallujah situation was going to resolve itself. And now we see the situation with Muqtada's militia no longer being a great threat.

We're still not back to that range of 18 to 20 per day. We're still -- but we're certainly not up at the hundred per day. Ranging between 40 and 50 per day, and we're still working real hard to try to get that number down. And I think we've still got some ways to go.

We've still got some efforts to try to reduce probably the greatest problem out there, which remains the improvised explosive devices that we find on the side of the road or that are detonated alongside of the road. But we continue to press forward. We continue to try to press and reduce the numbers of attacks on the coalition forces and the Iraqi people. And we would certainly hope that, with the seemingly signed truce provided by Muqtada and the lack of armed manifestation on his part or the promise for no more armed manifestations on his part, that that number can get back down to the trend line we saw it from January through April. And then we can work to get it even lower than that, down to zero.

MR. SENOR: Yes, sir.

Q (Through interpreter.) Ahmed Delamey (ph), Al Arkhan (ph) news. Mr. Mark Kimmitt, on the 19 -- 2004, coalition forces in Samarra area fired upon Assad Kadhem and Hussain Saleh during -- conducting their duties. That led to their deaths. What is the result of the investigation in this situation?

GEN. KIMMITT: Now this is 19 April?

Q (Through interpreter.) Yes, 19-4-2004, Al-Iraqiyah News.

GEN. KIMMITT: Two Al-Iraqiyah reporters that were operating around Samarra?

Q (In Arabic.)

GEN. KIMMITT: I don't have the result of that investigation. I know the investigation is still ongoing. And as soon as we have some indications of how that investigation turns out, we will probably provide an executive summary to Al-Iraqiyah and share that with the press as well.

MR. SENOR: Go ahead.

GEN. KIMMITT: If we're allowed to do that.

Q (Through interpreter.) Mukhdam Hamid Ali (ph) from Al Quds newspaper. Where have you reached in the investigation in the detainee issue? And don't you think that the duration has prolonged for the investigation to be concluded in the situation?

GEN. KIMMITT: There have been a number of investigations on the detainee issue at Abu Ghraib. We started a criminal investigation back in January. That was concluded. And as you know, as an outgrowth of that -- as an outcome of that investigation, there were six -- seven U.S. soldiers charged with various criminal charges. We've had the first court-martial in that case, the case of U.S. v. Jeremy Sivits. We would expect that the other six court-martials will proceed next month, all of them being of a higher level court-martial -- those being general court-martials.

There was a second investigation, an administrative investigation looking at the supervisory chain -- as you know, the Taguba report. And that investigation was concluded and action was taken against some members of the chain of command as a consequence of that investigation.

In both those investigations, it was determined that there might be some questionable aspects of the military intelligence and military intelligence personnel that needed to be investigated. We started a third investigation. The date I don't remember. I believe it was sometime in March; it may have been later. I'll have to check that date. But that is a investigation focused on the military intelligence practices and the military intelligence procedures. That is what we call the Major General George Fay investigation; that investigation is continuing.

As to the length of these investigations, we gave a very broad mandate to General Fay to look as wide as he needed and as deep as he needed. So rather than put a date on him to be done by, it's better that we say here's what we want you to investigate; come back to us after you've done a thorough, impartial, unbiased investigation.

So that investigation continues. I can't predict when it will be over, but I can tell you that it will be fair, it will be thorough, and it will be impartial.

MR. SENOR: Last question, go ahead.

Q (Through interpreter.) Mohammad Ali (sp) from Al-Mushr (sp) newspaper. Dan, you stated that up till now you do not know Mr. Brahimi's idea toward the construction of the new Iraqi government. However, according to my information, Ambassador Bremer was with Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi. Ambassador Bremer and members of the Governing Council have selected Mr. Ayad Alawi as the prime minister and Mr. Pachachi as the president.

Another thing I know is that the case of the Security Council around Iraq -- wouldn't it have been better that the Iraqis would have made this distinction between an independent country and multinational forces and to have -- the case is not -- does not benefit the Security Council, it benefits the Iraqi people. General Kimmitt, when do you expect that your forces will withdraw from Najaf?

MR. SENOR: On your first question, Ambassador Bremer attended the Governing Council meeting today after the Governing Council had voted on their endorsement for prime minister, and he congratulated the Governing Council on a very distinguished choice. Many individuals, many groups have made their recommendations, and they're very distinguished people, the pool from which will ultimately be selected for these leadership positions.

Mr. Brahimi attended the Governing Council meeting as well. I was not there for Mr. Brahimi's meeting, so I can't speak to what the exchange was.

But I will say Ambassador Bremer is engaged in discussions with Mr. Brahimi, and I keep those discussions between them. If either of them wants to comment on the substance of those discussions, they will.

But the position of prime minister, this is something that the U.N. has been leading. Mr. Brahimi has had the central role; he will continue to have the central role. He will make a formal recommendation and announcement when he is ready to do so. He didn't do so today. He, I think, indicated that he would try to do so by the end of the month. So let's just wait till then, until we have a formal announcement rather than reacting to an individual organization's recommendation.

GEN. KIMMITT: In Najaf, as you know, when Muqtada's militia took over the town, they shut down the police stations, they pretty much put their own law in place in Najaf and ensured that there was no Iraqi government control inside the city. Now they are gone. Presumably they are starting to leave, although we've seen no evidence of it. And it is our intention to bring back Iraqi police into the city of Najaf. That will take some time before we have a formed, trained and capable police force inside the city.

But what we don't want to do in the interim is create a security vacuum. And so in the interim, we still have coalition forces patrolling, providing presence and protecting some of the key facilities. Those key facilities were mentioned by Muqtada al-Sadr in his agreement with the Shi'ite House -- the CPA building, the governor's building, the Iraqi police stations.

So we would expect that there will be a coalition presence inside of Najaf to provide -- to avoid a security vacuum for the near term until the Ministry of the Interior and the local governates are capable of bringing an Iraqi force into the city. We want that to happen as quickly as possible. We want to turn the city of Najaf back over to the people of Najaf and Iraqi government control as soon as possible. But at the same time, we don't want to create a security vacuum that might be filled by those who would want to see harm done to the people of Najaf. So my specific answer is, as quickly as reasonable, as quickly as possible and as quickly as we can get them down there.

MR. SENOR: And I would just add, my understanding is the Iraqi minister of Interior, Samir Sumaidy, intends to hold a press conference in the next few days on the work that his ministry is doing to deal with the deployment of Iraqi police into Najaf so they can assume the security positions. As General Kimmitt has indicated, coalition forces will still have a role for guarding certain areas, certain buildings within -- certain properties within Najaf, and will certainly maintain its ability to maneuver, but the Iraqi police will resume primary security role in many of the other areas.

And again, I cannot be emphatic enough on this point, that Mugtada al-Sadr must disband and disarm his militia. He must meet the requirements in the Iraqi arrest warrant issued against him. And those conditions and that position remain unchanged as far as the coalition is concerned.

Thanks, everybody.


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