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White House Expresses Pleasure at Early Handover of Iraqi Sovereignty - 2004-06-28

The surprise announcement of the early transfer of power in Iraq first broke in Istanbul, Turkey where a NATO summit is underway. U.S. officials have welcomed the news.

A senior U.S. official says the White House is pleased with the early handover of power, calling it a proud day for the Iraqi people.

The brief comments were an initial response to the dramatic developments in Baghdad. President Bush was in a NATO summit session when the planned mid-week transfer of power occurred ahead of schedule. He is expected to make remarks later in the day after a meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The early handover comes as NATO takes up plans to provide training and equipment for Iraqi security forces. The aid was requested by Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. The extent of the aid to be supplied is not clear, but it would give NATO its first presence as an alliance in Iraq. The White House says 16 NATO member nations are already involved in Iraq on an individual basis.