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Powell Meets Iraqi Leaders in Baghdad - 2004-07-30

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell paid a surprise visit to Baghdad Friday for talks with leaders of Iraq's interim government. It's his first visit since the U.S.-led occupation officially ended with the June 28 transfer of sovereignty.

Mr. Powell flew here from neighboring Kuwait, and helicoptered into the heavy-guarded "Green Zone" of central Baghdad for talks with President Ghazi al-Yawar and other officials of Iraq's interim government.

He began the day-long stay with a meeting with the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte, who presides over the largest American overseas mission in the world.

The Secretary's talks with Iraqi authorities are a continuation of discussions he had in Saudi Arabia Thursday with Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. They are focusing on country's troubled security situation, and a Saudi proposal for bringing peacekeeping troops from Muslim and Arab states to Iraq.

Mr. Powell has welcomed the Saudi initiative but says key questions remain unanswered including how the Islamic troops would fit in to the chain-of-command with U.S-led forces, and whether they would supplement, or replace, units of the 31-nation coalition.