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US Ambassador to Iraq Urges Visas for Iraqi Employees


A published report says the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad has asked the Bush administration to grant immigrant visas to all Iraqis employed by the U.S. government in Iraq.

The Washington Post said Sunday that Ambassador Ryan Crocker is concerned that the Iraqi employees will quit and flee the country if they cannot be assured eventual safe passage to the United States.

The newspaper says Crocker's July 9 cable highlighted the plight of Iraqis who risk being targeted as collaborators because of their work for the U.S. It says at least nine U.S. embassy employees have been killed over the past three years.

Huge numbers of Iraqis have been seeking refuge abroad since sectarian fighting escalated early last year.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that nearly two million Iraqis have fled to neighboring countries, mostly Syria and Jordan.

The newspaper said the United States has admitted 133 Iraqi refugees since October 2006. Washington has predicted that it will process 7,000 Iraqi refugees by the end of September.

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