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Bremer Consults with White House, UN on Iraq Plans - 2004-01-16

The top U.S. administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, has traveled to Washington to review a plan for transfering power from the coalition to an Iraqi government.

Mr. Bremer will meet with top Bush administration officials Friday at the White House. He and members of the Iraqi Governing Council will also meet with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan Monday, to discuss possible United Nations involvement.

A leader of Iraq's Shi'ite majority has rejected the U.S. plan for holding regional conferences to select a national assembly that would in turn appoint an interim Iraqi government. The plan calls for the interim government to take sovereignty in July.

Tens of thousands of Iraqi Shi'ite Muslims demonstrated Thursday in support of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who has rejected the U.S. plan and is insisting on direct elections.

The United States says it is working to address Ayatollah Sistani's concerns, but officials say early direct elections would not be possible. The current head of the Governing Council, Adnan Pachachi, says insisting on elections would delay the transition of Iraqi sovereignty.

Mr. Annan has written to the Governing Council saying holding a credible election before June 30 may be impossible. Aides to the U.N. secretary-general say Monday's meeting is for consultations, and no major decisions are expected on U.N. involvement in Iraq.