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Powell Cites High Stakes in Iraq, Urges Aid for Reconstruction - 2003-09-30

Secretary of State Colin Powell is asking Arab and European governments share in reconstruction efforts in Iraq. The secretary spoke in advance of a conference of international aid donors, to be held in Madrid, next month.

The conference is scheduled for October 23. The American envoy asked the world community to be generous. Mr. Powell notes President Bush has asked Congress for $20 billion for Iraqi reconstruction. He says the stakes are high.

"It is no exaggeration to say that, without a transformation of the Middle East, the region will remain a source of violence and terrorism fueled by poverty, by alienation, and by despair," he says. "We must not let that happen. We will not let that happen."

Mr. Powell addressed the U.S.-Arab Economic Forum -- a three-day conference in Detroit that featured business and political leaders from the United States and Middle East.

He earlier said that, in coming days, the United States will prepare a new resolution on Iraq, to be presented to the United Nations Security Council. France, Russia and Germany complained an earlier draft granted too little authority to Iraqis and gave the United Nations too small a role. A senior U-S official has said the new proposal will lay out specific steps toward Iraqi sovereignty, but possibly not on the accelerated timetable that France and Germany are demanding.

Mr. Powell says it is important that the process not be rushed. "The absolutely worst thing we could do is to move this process too quickly, push it along too fast, and hand off to a government without the legitimacy or the capacity to govern. That would be a formula for failure."

Mr. Powell says there are no "painless shortcuts" to Iraqi reconstruction, but cites successes in the effort, despite recurring attacks on coalition forces and other targets. He says 90 percent of Iraqi schools have reopened, neighborhood councils are now meeting and Iraqi citizens are free from the threat of torture and execution.