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UN Team in Iraq to Help with Election Plans - 2004-03-29

Iraqi officials have met with United Nations technical experts to work on planning elections due by the end of next January.

Several members of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council held talks with the U.N. team in Baghdad on Monday.

The U.N. experts arrived in the Iraqi capital Friday to advise Iraqis about organizing and preparing for the vote.

Another group of experts, headed by U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, is expected in Baghdad later this week. That team will help Iraqis decide on the shape of an interim government that is to take power when the country regains sovereignty at the end of June.

In other developments, American military officials in Iraq say U.S. soldiers shot and killed four suspected militants in a gun battle late Sunday in the northern city of Mosul.

The officials say the gun fight erupted when a military patrol approached a vehicle similar to one involved in an attack on coalition forces earlier in the day. After the gun fight, which wounded two U.S. soldiers, various weapons were found inside the vehicle, including rocket propelled grenades and a launcher.

Earlier in Mosul, Iraq's public works minister escaped an assassination attempt that killed three of her body guards.

Iraqi police and the U.S.-led coalition say unidentified gunmen fired on a convoy carrying Minister Nasrin Barwari, who belongs to a Kurdish political party. She was not hurt.

Last September, a woman on the Iraqi Governing Council, Akila al-Hashemi, was assassinated.

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