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Iraq: Bush Orders Reorganization Of U.S. Stabilization Efforts

Washington, 6 October 2003 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush has ordered a major reorganization of America's efforts to stabilize Iraq and to speed up the country's reconstruction. Bush told reporters at the White House today that the so-called "Iraq Stabilization Group" is aimed at coordinating work between various U.S. agencies involved in Iraq and to provide support to the Pentagon and top U.S. administrator Paul Bremer. The group is headed by White House national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, a confidant of the president.

Assessing the situation, Bush said: "The situation is improving on a daily basis inside Iraq. People are freer, the security situation is getting better, the infrastructure is getting better, the schools are opening, the hospitals are being modernized."

The new group will also focus on U.S. efforts in Afghanistan.

The move came after senior U.S. officials expressed frustration over continuing violence in Iraq and the lack of progress in Afghanistan, where remnants of the Taliban have recently resurfaced.

In another development today, the Iraqi Central Bank distributed to local branches new Iraqi dinar currency to replace bank notes bearing the image of deposed President Saddam Hussein.

And in Beiji, north of Baghdad, U.S. forces removed the police chief from office today after a weekend of fighting between pro-Hussein demonstrators, Iraqi police, and U.S. soldiers. Beiji is an oil-refining center.