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Rumsfeld Discusses Expansion Of Iraqi Security Force

Baghdad, 23 February 2004 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld discussed in Baghdad today expansion of Iraqi security forces as the U.S.-led coalition hands over power to Iraqis.

During a previously unannounced visit to Iraq, Rumsfeld today met with young members of Iraq's new Civil Defence Corps and told them he is impressed with the progress they are making.

U.S. General Martin Dempsey told Rumsfeld that by 15 May about 12,000 Iraqi law-enforcement officers will replace U.S. troops in Baghdad. Their number will be reduced accordingly to 24,000.

Yesterday, members of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council said a formal agreement on maintaining foreign troops in Iraq beyond 30 June should be negotiated with the next sovereign government.