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Britain Says Attacks Will Not Stop Iraq Power Transfer - 2004-06-24

Britain has condemned the latest wave of terrorist bombings in Iraq, but says the hand-over of power next week to an Iraqi interim government will not be affected.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw discussed the Iraq situation in a meeting in London with the prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan's regional government, Nechervan Idris Barzani.

Following their talks, Mr. Straw told reporters attacks in Iraq were not unexpected, but they will not deter Iraq's march toward a democratic future.

"We always anticipated, sadly, that there would be violence in the run-up to the transfer of power, and beyond,? Mr. Straw said. ?But we are determined, the international community is determined and united, and I know that the people of Iraq are determined and united to ensure that the transfer of sovereignty does take place and that the interim government, and then elections, and then the transitional government, is able to form so at long last Iraq can enjoy a democratic and a free future."

Mr. Barzani predicted Iraq will be more secure and more stable after the U.S.-led coalition turns over power to the interim government next week.

He says Iraqis will be in a better position to take control of the situation once they have full responsibility, with the support of British and American forces who are training a new Iraqi army.

Mr. Straw was asked about the Iraqi Kurds' aspirations for autonomy.

He said Iraq's territorial integrity must be maintained, but within that framework, it will be up to the Iraqi people to determined the degree of autonomy granted to different regions.