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Iraqi PM:  Elections Will Go Ahead in January - 2004-09-19

Iraq's interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, says elections will be held in January, despite the violence lashing his country.

Mr. Allawi met British Prime Minister Tony Blair for talks in London on the deteriorating security situation and the threat to election planning in Iraq.

The interim Iraqi leader told a news conference he still plans to hold elections in January, and he appealed for United Nations support.

"We definitely are going to stick to the timetable of the elections in January next year," he said. "We are adamant that democracy is going to prevail, is going to win in Iraq, and this is where terrorists are trying to hurt us and to undermine us. And I call upon the United Nations to help us, in providing whatever it takes to make the elections a success."

Mr. Allawi stopped in London on his way to meet U.N. officials at the opening of the General Assembly in New York. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has been reluctant to increase the U.N. presence in Iraq because of poor security. The U.N. headquarters in Baghdad was bombed last year.

Mr. Blair urged countries that opposed the invasion of Iraq that toppled Saddam Hussein to forget their past disagreements and unite to fight the terrorist insurgency in Iraq.

"In this conflict now taking place in Iraq, this is the crucible in which the future of this global terrorism will be determined," he said. "And either it will succeed, and this terrorism will grow, or we will succeed, the Iraqi people will succeed, and this global terrorism will be delivered a huge defeat."

Mr. Blair declined to put a time frame on how long British troops may have to remain in Iraq, but he said the emphasis now is on building up Iraqi forces to take over their own security.

Mr. Allawi predicted the January elections will deliver what he called "a major blow to the terrorists," and would hasten the departure of international military forces led by the United States.