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Security Still a Major Problem, says US Administrator in Iraq - 2003-10-09

The U.S. administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, has praised the accomplishments achieved since the fall of Saddam Hussein, but admitted security is still a big problem. It was the six-month anniversary of the liberation of Iraq's capital, Baghdad.

The U.S. administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, noted the occasion, saying much has been accomplished since the ouster of Saddam Hussein.

At a news conference, Mr. Bremer said advances in every sector of Iraq's society had been made, including the completion of more than 13,000 construction projects. He said there are 40,000 police officers in the country and the beginnings of Iraq's new army with the first battalion having graduated from training this month.

He said almost all of Iraq's courts and banks are open and functioning and all of the country's universities and schools are open with 1,500 schools having been rehabilitated. The generation of electricity has increased more than 10 times the amount Iraq generated prior to the war. There are 170 independent newspapers operating in the country and Mr. Bremer said more than 100,000 new jobs have been created.

But, on a day that saw nine people killed in a suicide bomb attack at a Baghdad police station and the killings of an American soldier and a Spanish air force sergeant in two separate attacks, Mr. Bremer acknowledged security is a deep concern. The U.S. administrator said adjustments are being made to increase the level of security.

“We are working to reconfigure our forces to make them more mobile and lighter,” he said. “And, we are working where possible to increase the Iraqi role in security. Secondly, we are working to improve our intelligence against the terrorists who are working here. I cannot say much about how that works, but it is clear to me, having been involved in the fight against terrorism for several decades, that we will need better intelligence and we need to continue to work on that. And, thirdly, we are working to mobilize Iraqi forces.”

Mr. Bremer noted that the issue of Turkish troops possibly coming to Iraq to join coalition forces is sensitive. He said the United States wants to increase the number of participants in the coalition, including Turkey. Iraq's governing council has expressed concern over the issue and Mr. Bremer said negotiations are under way.

“The question of foreign troops coming to Iraq, including Turkish troops, is a mater that is under discussion with the governing council,” he said. “We met this morning and had a discussion of this sensitive subject. It was a productive meeting and [I] think it will be an important step in finding a solution to an issue that is satisfactory to both us and the Iraqis.”

Mr. Bremer noted that, while the work in Iraq has just begun, many more accomplishments have been made in the past six months than anyone had ever anticipated, including himself.