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Iraq: Powell In Kuwait After Talks With Security Council Members

Kuwait City, 14 September 2003 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has arrived in Kuwait ahead of a planned visit to neighboring Iraq. Powell is expected to hold talks with Kuwaiti leaders before going to Baghdad to become the first U.S. secretary of state to visit Iraq for more than 40 years.

Powell's visit to the region comes after he held talks on Iraq on 13 September with the foreign ministers of the four other veto-holding members of the United Nations Security Council: Russia, France, China, and Britain.

The meeting in Geneva did not result in any concrete agreement toward a new UN resolution on Iraq.

But UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who also attended the meeting, and Powell said the Security Council's permanent five were in agreement on the principle that power should be transferred to Iraqis as soon as possible.

"What we are all committed to, as the [UN] secretary-general [Kofi Annan] said, is to put authority back into the hands of the Iraqi people for their own destiny, for their own future, as fast as is possible, but do it in a responsible way."

In Iraq, the United States military apologized for a shooting incident on 12 September in the city of Al-Fallujah in which U.S. troops killed eight U.S.-backed Iraqi police and a Jordanian guard. Military officials have described the shooting as accidental.