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Anbar leaders stress on partnership with the United States
01/11/2007 | LOC19:36
16:36 GMT
| Gulf News
تصغير الخطالشكل الأساسيتكبير الخط
By Joe Macaron WASHINGTON, Nov 1 (KUNA) -- Leaders of Anbar province reiterated in their meeting with President George W. Bush the strong partnership with the US forces in Iraq. The Iraqi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Rafeh Al-Issawi told KUNA that the Anbar delegation stressed in the meeting with Bush on the necessity of a neutral government that represents all Iraqis and that Bush showed special interest in knowing about the negative role of Iran in Iraq.
The Anbar delegation continues its visit to Washington and is now meeting with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice after meeting with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates earlier this week.
In remarks at the Meridian International Center here in Washington, al-Issawi said that the delegation did not get the chance to meet with Senator Biden, who sponsored the Senate bill on Iraq federation system.
But he added that the delegation asked Bush to send their regards to Biden "who was able to unify Iraqis" in opposing his idea, noting that "the shape of the Iraqi state is decided by Iraqis only".
"Forget about it, no one will divide Iraq", affirmed Bush three times when the delegation asked about his view on this matter, according to al-Issawi.
The head of the Anbar Awakening Council Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha said that some in the United States want "to divide our country but Iraq is one country".
Sheikh Ahmad affirmed that the Iraqi Minister of Defense is not yet ready to assume security responsibility of the country and referred to what is happening now on Iraqs border with Turkey.
"The Iraqi army is still fragile to protect the country from external influence", he added.
After slipping into the hands of Al-Qaeda in Iraq with a tragic rate of violence, leaders from Anbar started in the last quarter of 2006 a reconciliation process with the Iraqi central government and with coalition forces in Iraq to counter the influence of Al-Qaeda and restore security and stability to their area. President Bush, in return, declared the troops surge in Iraq last January deploying 4,000 US marines in Anbar.
Sheikh Ahmdad argued that "when the Iraqi army becomes national and complete not based on sectarianism then the US army would subsequently withdraw" from Iraq and affirmed "we are not bothered" by the presence of the coalitions forces.
He expressed opposition to "anyone carrying weapons in a non legal manner", noting that he supports Bush position on Iranian influence that is backing up "some political groups in Iraq".
Anbar Governor Maamoun Sami Rashid Al-Awani said that a US withdrawal from Iraq is "against the interests of Iraqis and Americans", disclosing that Anbar province meet on a monthly basis with coalition forces to assess the readiness of local police to assume responsibility.
"When we are convinced of its readiness, we can take the withdrawal decision", he added.
Sheikh Ahmad told KUNA that the meeting with Bush was "very productive" tackling key issues such as the security situation in Anbar and the release of Iraqi Sunni detainees.
Chairman of Anbar Provincial Council Abdul-Salam Abdullah stressed on the importance of the existence of "a neutral government, that does not support any party, under a unified Iraq" and warned from any plans to divide Iraq on sectarian basis since this could endanger "peace and security in Iraq and the world".
This annual ritual, organized by the State Department's bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, brings current or potential leaders in government, politics, media, education and other fields to the United States to interact with their counterparts. This program estimates that over 200 current and former heads of state and 1,500 cabinet-level ministers have participated so far in similar initiatives. (end) jm.bz.
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