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Senior U.S., Iraqi Officials Discuss Islamic Troops

29 July 2004 -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell today met with interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi in Saudi Arabia and discussed the possibility of deploying Arab and Muslim troops in Iraq.

Speaking in Jeddah at a joint news conference with Allawi, Powell said the idea is in the preliminary stages.

"These are preliminary ideas that the Saudis have given to us," Powell said. "They shared the ideas with the prime minister [Allawi], with us, with [UN] Secretary-General [Kofi] Annan, and we welcome the Saudi ideas, and we'll be examining them in the days ahead."

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said he and Powell had a "preliminary discussion" on the matter during talks in Jeddah yesterday. He said more discussions are planned.

Powell said the Saudi proposal focuses on bringing Arab or Muslim troops to Iraq either as part of the U.S.-led coalition or as a separate organization that would fall within the framework of coalition efforts.

Also today, Allawi said he has accepted an invitation from U.S. President George W. Bush to visit the United States soon. He gave no date for the trip.