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Rumsfeld Says Iraqi Constitution Must Satisfy All Groups

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says Iraqi leaders must come up with a final draft constitution that satisfies all three main groups in the country - the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. The secretary spoke as Iraq's parliament wrestled with final issues related to federalism, Islam and the rights of women and minority groups during what are supposed to be the final three days of deliberation on the document.

Secretary Rumsfeld says the democratic process is often difficult and inefficient, but Iraqi leaders must find a political formula that satisfies all three main groups.

"For confidence in the part of the Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shia, they're going to have to see a piece of paper that they can look at, and have reasonable confidence that it'll protect them from the others. That is a big deal. That is tough stuff. That is hard work. That is a leap of faith," he said.

Secretary Rumsfeld says the ratification process is structured so that without support in all three groups, the constitution will not be ratified in a nationwide vote scheduled for October.

"The constitution, to be successful, has to take into account the legitimate interests, and fashion a balance in the federalism aspect of it, and in the other key things that they're worried about, so that they'll all nod and say, 'Well, I really don't like it. It's not perfect. But it's good enough. And, by golly, if we have to amend it, lots of other countries have amended their constitutions. If there's something we made a mistake on, we'll just have to fix it later," he said.

At a Pentagon news conference, Secretary Rumsfeld also said he believes the American people will continue to support the U.S. military presence in Iraq as long as it is necessary, in spite of indications of growing anti-war sentiment. Asked what he would say to anti-war activists like Cindy Sheehan, who lost a son in Iraq and has been protesting near President Bush's ranch in Texas, Secretary Rumsfeld said it is up to leaders, such as himself, to help Mrs. Sheehan and her supporters understand the importance of defeating terrorists like Iraq's al-Qaida leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.