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'US Has No Desire to Govern Iraq,' says Special Envoy - 2003-02-26


President Bush's special envoy to the Iraqi opposition says Washington wants Iraqi citizens to form their own democratic government if Saddam Hussein is ousted, and any American presence in Baghdad would be only temporary.

Special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad says the United States has no desire to govern Iraq, suggesting the Iraqi people should form their own government as soon as possible.

Speaking Wednesday to Iraqi opposition leaders meeting in Kurdish-held northern Iraq, President Bush's envoy outlined Washington's goals in a post Saddam Hussein Baghdad.

Mr. Khalilzad said President Bush wants to see weapons of mass destruction eliminated, terrorists apprehended and humanitarian needs met. He said the United States also wants to establish security and ensure that the Iraqi people are empowered to build their own future. He emphasized that the United States will not appoint a new Iraqi government.

Mr. Khalilzad said the United States is dedicated to helping to build a future democratic Iraq. But he indicated the U.S. government has no intention of maintaining a permanent presence in Baghdad. He stressed the need for a broad-based future Iraqi government.

Iraqi opposition leaders and other delegates are holding a summit in northern Iraq as they attempt to forge an outline for a future Iraqi government should the current regime eventually be toppled.

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