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Rice Fails to Win Firm Arab Pledges on Iraq


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has failed to secure any firm Arab pledges on debt relief for Iraq or greater Arab diplomatic presence in Baghdad.

After a meeting of Arab states in Bahrain, Rice told reporters that a number of countries around the table expressed a desire for having permanent representation in Iraq, but that there were no firm commitments. The top U.S. diplomat said she believes it is a process that eventually will move forward.

Rice is on a three-day trip to the Middle East. She goes next to Kuwait, where officials from world powers, including the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and the Group of Eight industrialized nations, Iraq and other Arab nations are gathering for a conference Tuesday on Iraq's future.

Those at the conference are expected to adopt a joint declaration on Iraq.

Iraqi officials called on Arab nations to cancel Iraq's debts. They also urged other countries to open diplomatic missions in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

Many nations have been reluctant to open embassies in Baghdad because of security concerns.

Meanwhile, violence in Iraq continues. The U.S. military said Monday that two U.S. soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in Salahuddin province. The statement said two other U.S. soldiers, two Iraqi security volunteers and a civilian interpreter were wounded in the attack.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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