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Iraq: Powell Suggests Iraqis May Take Over More Duties

Prague, 7 August 2003 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said today that steady losses sustained by American forces in Iraq and an earlier bomb attack in Baghdad may prompt U.S. officials to delegate more security responsibilities to Iraqi forces. Talking to journalists in Washington, Powell said protection of local installations could be left to the new, fledgling Iraqi armed forces.

Powell's comments followed a car bomb attack outside the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad that killed at least 11 people and wounded nearly 60 others. Most victims are believed to be embassy employees and Iraqi passers-by.

The White House condemned the attack and Powell telephoned his Jordanian counterpart Marwan Muasher to express his regrets.

Powell also said the U.S. would not be deterred and would remain in Iraq until a representative form of government is put in place.

Two American soldiers were wounded today in a gunbattle in central Baghdad. Hours before, two other soldiers were killed in a firefight in the capital's Al-Rashid neighborhood.

The deaths brought to 55 the number of U.S. troops killed since President George W. Bush declared major fighting over on 1 May.