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Iraq: Delegates Meet On Post-Hussein Government

Baghdad, 28 April 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Around 200 Iraqi delegates today met in Baghdad to discuss how Iraq should be governed after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The U.S.-appointed administrator for postwar Iraq, Jay Garner, convened the gathering. He said those who are charged with the reconstruction of Iraq have a "heavy" task before them.

"Now, our responsibility is very heavy because those that began civilization thousands of years ago have passed the mantle to us, and it is our responsibility to give democracy birth here today," Garner said.

Among those attending the talks were representatives of the Iraqi National Congress of Ahmad Chalabi, and officials from the Iran-based Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim group, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

In other developments, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld today praised U.S. troops in Qatar for bringing down the former Iraqi government. Rumsfeld is visiting Qatar and Bahrain today as part of a Persian Gulf tour.

Rumsfeld shook hands with U.S. war commander General Tommy Franks and posed for photographs with soldiers at the coalition military headquarters in Qatar.

After talks with United Arab Emirate officials yesterday, Rumsfeld and Franks said that the United States will maintain forces in the Persian Gulf region for an extended period.