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Rumsfeld Presses Iraqis To Form Government

Admiral Edmund Giambastiani, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Mar 24, 2006
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld urged Iraqi leaders Thursday not to delay in forming a national unity government, warning that violence and killings continue while they deliberate. "We talk to the folks out there, of course, every day, and they feel that progress is being made. But it hasn't yet happened," Rumsfeld told reporters.

"It's unhelpful," he added.

Iraqi leaders have so far failed to form a permanent government more than three months after December 15 elections and despite heavy US pressure on the Shiite majority to bring Sunnis as well as Kurds into a governing coalition.

Rumsfeld said a competent, inclusive government would dampen the sectarian violence that has gripped the country since the bombing of a Shiite mosque February 22.

"So to the extent that isn't happening, obviously, the level of violence continues and people are being killed, and that's unfortunate. And they need to get about the task," Rumsfeld said.

Admiral Edmund Giambastiani, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Iraqi security forces have performed well in keeping the violence down.

He said an annual Shiite pilgrimage from Baghdad to the southern city of Najaf and back -- a trek involving an estimated two million people -- has so far come off with little violence.

US commanders brought in a mechanized infantry battalion from Kuwait and repositioned forces around Iraq in anticipation of attacks on the pilgrimage.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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