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Few Countries Respond to US Appeals to Send Police to Iraq

A senior Defense Department official says the United States has appealed to nearly 50 countries to provide police advisors for Iraq, but so far only a few have agreed.

Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith says U.S. officials are placing a heavy emphasis on boosting the international police presence in Iraq as part of a mounting post-war effort to curb violence.

In an appearance at the Foreign Press Center in Washington, Mr. Feith disclosed the State Department is currently recruiting a thousand civilian police advisors and trainers. He says the number of U.S. military police personnel in Iraq is growing from around 1,800 to 4,000.

In addition, the senior Pentagon official says nearly 50 countries have been asked to send in police advisors and he says a number have already accepted.

Defense officials say seven countries of 46 that have been asked have accepted. They do not identify all of them.

But Mr. Feith says Italy and Spain will take part. "We have one of the contributions that we've received is Carabinieri forces from Italy and Guardia Civil forces from Spain, who will be able to contribute valuably to the security of the country," he said.

Mr. Feith says hostile, armed elements of Iraq's former regime remain at large in the country. He says they will continue to try to attack coalition forces, which is why he says efforts are under way to restore security, using a range of forces including troops as well as police.

In recent days, several U.S. soldiers have been killed or injured in attacks attributed to hostile Iraqi forces.

Mr. Feith reiterates the Bush administration's desire to put Iraqis in a position to run their own country as soon as possible.

But he says it is difficult to speculate when a transfer of power might take place. Still, he says U.S. authorities now running Iraq are hoping to keep the transition period short.