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Iraqi PM Speaks to UN, Appeals for Help in Rebuilding - 2004-09-25

Iraq's interim prime minister has made an impassioned plea to the world community for help in rebuilding his shattered nation. In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said Iraq's victory would be the world's to share, as would its defeat. But he left with only vague pledges of support.

A day after his triumphant address to U.S. Congress, Prime Minister Allawi faced a tougher audience in the U.N. General Assembly hall. Speaking in Arabic through an interpreter, he told the gathering of world leaders that they have a stake in Iraq's ability to defeat what he called 'international criminals'. "Today they choose Iraq as their battleground because they fear the success of Iraqi experience and restoration by Iraq of stability and its development march. But they will reap nothing but failure and total defeat. Therefore our struggle is your struggle, our victory will be your victory, and if we were defeated, it will be your defeat," he said.

Mr. Allawi's speech came at the end of a week that has seen scores of leaders step to the General Assembly podium to condemn the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. He urged them to put aside past differences and look to the future. "I do recognize that some countries here objected to the war that brought down the regime of Saddam Hussein and his oppression and liberated the people of Iraq, and that is their right, but differences over this issue should not remain an obstacle to establishing new cooperative relations," he said.

Mr. Allawi later met with Secretary-General Kofi Annan to press his case for increased U.N. assistance in rebuilding his country and preparing for elections. But as he came out of the meeting, the Iraqi leader suggested there had been no new offers of help. "He's going to do his best to help with elections. This is what we agreed upon," he said.

Secretary General Annan later issued a terse statement saying he assured Prime Minister Allawi that the United Nations would give all possible support in assisting Iraq's election commission as circumstances permit.

Mr. Annan previously cast doubt on whether credible elections could be held in view of Iraq's precarious security conditions. But Mr. Allawi said he remains committed to staging the election in January, and said 'all eligible Iraqis will be able to vote'.