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Rebuilding Effort in Iraq Continues - 2003-04-25

We go to Iraq now with the latest on the rebuilding effort and the capture of more former members of the regime of Saddam Hussein. Here’s Roberta Rafaelle.

Jay Garner, the retired U.S. Army general overseeing Iraq’s reconstruction met Thursday with a few dozen Iraqi academics and technocrats in Baghdad. The topic, the future of post-war Iraq. General Garner told reporters his team would work toward a new, democratic government, under Iraqi control.

“As we get into the ministries and other governmental functions and we start the reconstruction effort in those, when the Iraqis themselves are ready to accept the management of that, the leadership of that, we’ll turn it over to them, and there’s no calendar, some will go fast, some will take a little longer, but we’ll continue to work in there and do the reconstruction until we leave.”

The Bush administration is trying to determine who is in charge in Baghdad, at least for now. Mohammed Zubaidi has declared himself mayor. He’s the man in the jacket, meeting with Iraqi National Congress leader, Ahmad Chalabi. The administration has rejected Mister Zubaidi’s claim of leadership. General Garner said Iraqi civilians raised the issue during their meeting with him Thursday.

“They brought up Mister Zubaidi’s self-appointment, and we told them, the coalition doesn’t have a candidate, and if the people of Baghdad are unhappy with them, all they have to do is come and tell us and we’ll ask him to leave and we’ll show him how to leave, he’s not supported by the coalition.”

The hunt for Iraqis on the U.S playing card deck of ‘ 55 most wanted’ netted three more big targets. They included the former commander of Iraq’s air defenses, Mazahim Sa’b Hassan al-Tikriti, Number 10 on the list. Also captured, Muhammad Mahdi al-Salih, the former Minister of Trade. The ex-chief of Iraqi military intelligence, General Zuhayr Talib Abd al-Sattar al Naqib, gave himself up Wednesday.

In the Midwestern U.S. state of Ohio Thursday, President George W. Bush told factory workers Saddam Hussein managed to fool the United Nations for 12 years, by hiding weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Bush vowed that U.S. troops would continue searching for them. GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT
“and so it’s going to take time to find them, but we know he had them. And whether he destroyed them, moved them, or hid them, we’re going to find the truth, and one thing’s for certain – Saddam Hussein no longer threatens America with weapons of mass destruction.”

In New York, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to extend the program that uses Iraqi oil revenues to purchase food and medicine for Iraqi civilians. The Council extended the oil-for-food program until June 3rd. It was supposed to expire on May 12th.