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Talabani Appeals for International Help Against Iraq Insurgency

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani Thursday urged world leaders to help his government overcome insurgents, who he said are waging a war of annihilation against innocent civilians. He spoke amid an upsurge in terror attacks in Baghdad that has left more than 170 people dead in two days.

Mr. Talabani told the U.N. General Assembly in an emotional address that Iraq is now free after rising from the ashes of the regime of Saddam Hussein, but is in desperate need of international moral and material support as it tries to build democracy and fight terrorism.

Speaking in the wake of a devastating string of car bomb attacks in Baghdad that caused hundreds of casualties, the Iraqi leader - heard through an interpreter - said the insurgents are waging a war of annihilation against innocent civilians and targeting every ambition of the country's new elected government:

"Today Iraq is facing one of the most brutal campaigns of terror at the hands of the forces of darkness," said Mr. Talabani. "They are killing hundreds of Iraqis, destroying their wealth, and trying their best to stop their march towards the just goals of rebuilding their country through building a constitution and fair regime that is under popular scrutiny."

Mr. Talabani, the leading Kurdish figure in the Iraqi government, delivered part of his address in Kurdish.

He said the experience of Iraq's northern Kurdish region, autonomous since the end of the first Gulf war 15 years ago, provides a model for the democratic development of the rest of the country.

The Iraqi leader urged international patience in the process of democracy-building in the country.

He said his government is now opening its arms to the world community with the hope it understands the value and importance of its struggle against terrorism and rejection of what he termed its backward ideology:

"It is determined to rebuild its present and future with patience, determination and on the basis of human rights and democracy," he added. "From this rostrum we stress that Iraq is now free, thanks to the will and awareness of the people of Iraq, the sincerity of their friends, the help of international organizations and the coalition's war of liberation under the leadership of the United States of America."

Mr. Talabani met in Washington Wednesday with President Bush, who said U.S. support for Iraq will not waver.

The Iraqi President for his part said he hoped Iraqi forces will be ready to take full responsibility for the country's security by the end of 2006.

But he said his government will set no timetable for a U.S. withdrawal, which he said would only help the insurgents.