Questions concerning the situation in Iraq and the June 30 turnover of sovereignty dominated a June 18 roundtable interview of Secretary of State Colin Powell, but the secretary also responded to queries on Uzbekistan and the Middle East peace process.
Powell met in Washington with reporters from five regional newspapers. Addressing the preparations for returning sovereignty to Iraq, Powell said he is "impressed by the way in which the interim Iraqi government has started to function even before they have received full sovereignty," and added that "everything we've seen so far suggests it [the turnover of sovereignty] will go smoothly."
Iraqis Will Control All 26 Ministries by Week's End, Senor Says
With 15 of 26 Iraqi government ministries already under Iraqi control, Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) spokesman Dan Senor says the remaining 11 will be transferred by week's end.
"Today I can announce that by the end of this week, all remaining ministries will be turned over to the Iraqi ministers," said Senor during a June 21 press briefing in Baghdad. "So by this time next week, every single minister will have control of their respective ministry," he added.
Senor further noted that more than 1.3 million Iraqis work for the national government, "and by the end of this week, all of them will be reporting to Iraqi supervisors and Iraqi ministers."
Iraqi Bankers Meet U.S., International Financiers in New York, Washington
Representatives of Iraq's banks are meeting with U.S. and international financial experts in New York and Washington to be briefed on the latest banking practices and to come in contact with potential U.S. business partners. The visits are sponsored by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA).
"Reconstruction and modernization of the private banking sector is essential for economic growth in Iraq," said Kevin Woelflein, Senior Advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Finance with the Coalition Provisional Authority. "This visit has provided the delegates with a valuable opportunity to learn about modern banking practices and will help to make private banks the core of the future banking structure in Iraq." The delegation includes representatives from 12 privately owned Iraqi banks as well as the deputy governor of Iraq's Central Bank.
The establishment of a stable, democratic government in Iraq is a key step in the global war on terror, according to Secretary of State Colin Powell.
In a June 15 radio interview, Powell said, "Mr. Zarqawi is in Baghdad organizing efforts against the new government, against the coalition forces, against the people of Iraq... And if we can beat him here and put in place a democratic government resting on a solid foundation of law, freedom and democracy, it is going to put a lie to all of these terrorist
claims: that the United States is a bad country that means ill for Arab and Muslim lands."
The secretary said U.S. interventions in Kuwait, Kosovo and Afghanistan underscore how the United States is "freeing Muslims from dictatorships in the worst kinds of regimes. And we don't get that kind of credit. People like to criticize us without criticizing that which we have saved those populations from."