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US to Speed Up Handing Over Power in Iraq

The U.S. administrator in Iraq is promising to accelerate efforts to hand over control of Iraq to the Iraqi people. He also said he believes Saddam Hussein is alive and in Iraq, but it is unclear if the ousted leader is organizing the current spate of attacks.

Noting the severity of recent attacks against Iraqi security personnel and humanitarian organizations in Baghdad, U.S. administrator Paul Bremer said the Coalition Provisional Authority plans to speed up the process of handing control of Iraq over to the Iraqi people.

"We will accelerate the turnover of responsibility and authority to the Iraqis," he said. "It is important that they take a central role in their own defense. This is, after all, their country. It is their future. We Will double the size of the Iraqi Defense Corps by March. We will accelerate the training of the new Iraqi army and a professional police force. We will expand the number of Iraqis engaged in guarding the country's borders and infrastructure. In all, we will have over 200,000 Iraqis involved in their own security forces by September next year."

Mr. Bremer said those who are carrying out attacks in Iraq are organized and deadly opponents, who will stop at nothing to disrupt Iraq's progress toward freedom.

"They honor no rules," said Paul Bremer. "They respect no boundaries. They are dangerous and persistent, and it will take time to root them out. I expect that these terrorists and Saddam loyalists will continue to attack both our coalition forces and Iraqis, in an effort to prevent the consolidation of security and the establishment of freedom."

Mr. Bremer said small numbers of foreign fighters from Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Sudan have been operating in Iraq. He said getting more Iraqis involved in the security of the country will help identify who the foreign fighters and terrorists are.

Mr. Bremer said the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council will write a constitution and ratify it, and hold elections under that constitution, although he did not say when.

He also said the economic reconstruction of Iraq would be accelerated following the infusion of tens of billions of dollars in Iraq from the United States and other donor countries.