In Iraq, two key members of Saddam Hussein’s regime have been captured. Also a key religious observance takes place after being banned for many years, as the rebuilding of the country moves forward. All of this is part of Robert Rafaelle’s report.
U.S. military officials have confirmed that two more Iraqis on the United States ‘most wanted’ list are now in coalition custody. One is a former Iraqi Prime Minister, Muhammed Hamza al-Zubaydi. Mister al-Zubaydi was identified as a key figure in suppressing the Shiite uprising in southern Iraq after the first Gulf War in 1991. Tens of thousands of people died in that revolt. Coalition forces have also confirmed they are holding Jamal Mustafa Abdullah Sultan al Tikriti, one of Saddam Hussein’s son-in-laws.
Meanwhile, the man appointed by the Bush administration to coordinate the reconstruction of Iraq visited the Kurdish-controlled area of Northern Iraq Tuesday. Retired Army General Jay Garner was greeted by the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Jalal Talabini. General Garner drew cheers from students at Sulaymaniyah University, when he said they controlled their destiny.
JAY GARNER/U.S. CIVIL ADMINISTRATOR IN IRAQ
“You are the youth of Iraq, you are going to lead Iraq, you will govern new Iraq, you will raise your children in new Iraq, and you will give birth to a new Iraq.”
NATURAL SOUND APPLAUSE
In New York City, Chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix met with the Security Council to discuss post-war Iraq. Doctor Blix said his team should return to Iraq as soon as possible to search for any weapons of mass destruction.
HANS BLIX, CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR
“I think it is necessary that the rights that we had, namely to free access, and unrestricted access to sites in Iraq, and to individuals in Iraq, remains important.”
Doctor Blix’s comments came as France proposed lifting some economic sanctions against Iraq. Last week, the Bush administration called for sanctions to be lifted as soon as possible, to help Iraq gain financial resources that could help pay for the nation’s reconstruction.
But Tuesday, Russia insisted that U.N. inspectors verify that Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction before sanctions are lifted. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, however, insisted that U.S.-led weapons inspections now underway are sufficient.
ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN
“We’ll work with the Security Council members, the United Nations, and our friends and allies on the issue of post-Saddam Iraq, and how best to achieve our mutual goals, but make no mistake about it, the United States and coalition have taken on the responsibility for dismantling Iraq’s W.M.D.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Military officials say Iraqi groups will meet in Baghdad Saturday for more talks on forming a post-war government, following last week’s Nasiriyah gathering of Iraqis representing Kurds, Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and other groups.