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US Officials Say Insurgents Will Not Derail Iraq Election Plans - 2004-09-12


Top Bush administration officials say a plan is in place to deal with insurgents in Iraq. The president's foreign policy advisors stress the insurgency will not derail Iraqi elections scheduled for early 2005.

Secretary of State Colin Powell says the situation is difficult in several Iraqi cities in an area known as the Sunni triangle. But he says progress is being made in some areas, and there is a strategy for dealing with insurgents in others that involves both military and political elements.

"Our military commanders, working with Iraqi military leaders and the Iraqi interim government, have plans for each one of those areas to bring them back under government control in time for the election," Mr. Powell says.

During an appearance on the NBC television program, Meet the Press, Mr. Powell was asked if Iraq will be ready to hold national elections in January. He insisted the insurgency can be controlled by then.

"Nobody is planning to postpone the elections," Mr. Powell says. "[Iraqi] Prime Minister [Iyad] Allawi has been quite clear about this. Of course, we have to bring that insurgency under control. But keep in mind that most of the country would be in a satisfactory position for elections, if they were being held next month."

The secretary of state was interviewed on three of the five network news programs that dominate Sunday morning television in the United States. White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice carried on his themes on the other two.

She told ABC's This Week program that insurgents want to stop the political process in Iraq. But she stressed they will not succeed.

"There are some people who want to take Iraq back to the days of mass graves and torture chambers and seeking weapons of mass destruction and threatening its neighbors," she says. "It is not going to happen."

The situation in Iraq has become a major issue in the U.S. presidential campaign. And the Sunday morning news programs also featured the comments of key advisors to Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.

On Meet the Press, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said the situation in Iraq is much more difficult than the Bush administration is willing to admit. She said in order for there to be elections in January, U.N. officials in that country, who are making preparations for the balloting, have to feel secure.

"It would be lovely if they took place in January, but I sure do not see it, because the United Nations itself has said it will take it about eight months to get those elections ready, and there are not eight months between now and January," Ms. Albright says.

New public-opinion polls show many American voters are currently siding with the president on Iraq. In a Time Magazine poll, potential voters were asked who they trust to handle the situation in Iraq. Fifty-seven-percent said President Bush. Thirty-seven-percent said Senator Kerry.

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