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Iraqi Interim President to Meet President Bush Monday


Iraq's interim president says an election delay would be a mistake, and would only make the security situation in his country worse. Ghazi al-Yawar made the comments on the eve of talks with President Bush.

Interim President al-Yawar says he is taking a message to the White House.

In an interview on U.S. television, he said he wants to thank the United States for its help, and urge President Bush to continue to stand with the Iraqi people.

"I will tell him that we in Iraq are determined to build our own democracy, our own Iraqi-style democracy, but also we want you to help us to empower more Iraqis to assume responsibility, especially in the security forces arena," he said.

During an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press program, Iraq's interim president was asked if security concerns could or should prompt a postponement of the national elections scheduled for January 30. He repeated the interim government's position, saying it is important for the elections to occur on time, and that a delay would only aid insurgents seeking to derail the election process.

"We do not think that postponing elections or delaying them will solve the problem," he said. "Actually, it will prolong the agony for Iraqis, and you will have more resentment in the Iraqi society."

Several political groups in Iraq have called for the elections to be postponed for up to six months because of concerns that the continuing violence could prevent people in some areas from voting.

Former U.N. special envoy to Iraq Lakhdar Brahimi says he thinks a postponement may be warranted. In an interview published Saturday in a Dutch newspaper, Mr. Brahimi said he does not think elections can be held in the current security situation.

Concerns about pre-election violence have prompted the Defense Department to boost troop levels in Iraq from 138,000 to 150,000. Two key members of the United States Senate say the security situation has to be dealt with.

Arizona Republican John McCain, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee was interviewed on the Fox News Sunday television program.

"Yes, we need more troops," he said. "Yes, we have to win. Yes, the elections have to be held at the end of January."

On ABC's This Week, Delaware's Joseph Biden, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said U.S. force levels in Iraq have been too low from the start. Senator Biden, who recently returned from his fourth trip to Iraq, said the security situation there continues to deteriorate.

"And anybody who tells you, like we were told just prior to the November election, that Iraq is more secure, that is simply not true," he said.

Mr. Biden said Iraqi and American casualties are up sharply. And he noted that places he could visit on earlier fact-finding missions to Iraq have now been declared off limits because his safety could not be guaranteed.

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