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Iraq: Factional Leaders Gather For Meeting With U.S. Administrator

Baghdad, 28 April 2003 (RFE/RL) -- An assortment of potential Iraqi leaders gathered in Baghdad today for talks with the administrator appointed by the United States, Jay Garner. Muslim clerics, Kurds, tribal chiefs in traditional Arab garb, and men in business suits entered the building in the center of the capital after strict security checks.

Aides to Garner said they expected more than 300 Iraqis to attend the meeting, which comes six weeks after a similar gathering in southern Iraq where participants pledged to form a democratic government.

In a radio broadcast to Iraqis yesterday, Garner pledged to help reconstruct the country and build an honest government.

Also yesterday, U.S. forces arrested Muhammad Mohsen Zubaidi, a returned Iraqi exile who had declared himself the "mayor" of Baghdad. The U.S. military said Zubaidi had been arrested for "exercising authority which was not his."