Monday, April 03, 2006


AP: Rice & Straw lobby Iraqis for strong leadership

By ANNE GEARAN, AP Diplomatic Writer -- Monday, 17 minutes ago

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, left, and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw speak at a joint press briefing Monday April 3, 2006 in Baghdad, Iraq.  Straw and Rice both acknowledged that the Iraqis had made progress in building a democratic system after decades of Saddam Hussein's tyranny, economic sanctions and conflict but said  that it was now crucial that they move forward quickly to ensure the nominations of the senior positions.(AP Photo/Mohammed Hato)BAGHDAD, Iraq - Secretary of State Rice and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, left, said Monday that while it is up to the Iraqi people to chose their own leaders, the international backers who have spent blood and money to end a dictatorship here have a right to expect that it will happen quickly.

Neither Rice nor Straw pointed to any specific accomplishment from a day and a half spent huddling with nearly all of Iraq's squabbling factions. But they said their message that Iraq must quickly form a government of national unity got through.

"We are entitled to say that whilst it is up to you, the Iraqis, to say who will fill these positions, someone must fill these positions and fill them quickly," Straw told reporters at a news conference.

"There is no doubt the political vacuum that is here at the moment is not assisting the security situation," Straw said.

Rice said the troubles in Iraq called for a strong leader who could help unify the people of this war-ravaged land.

But, she added, "It's not our job to say who that person ought to be."

Rice said the quick formation of a new government "is something that the international community has a right to expect."

"You cannot have a circumstance in which there is a political vacuum in a country like this that faces so much threat of violence," Rice said.

Full AP-Yahoo News story, posted by Marcus Comton. M.C.: What about Saddam Hussein? He kept them unified for 2 decades.

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