Rumsfeld meets Iraqi leaders, urge them not to delay political progress
The new leaders of Iraq must not allow "turbulence or incompetence or corruption" to slow or foil progress toward building democracy and defeating the "insurgency," US Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said.
Rumsfeld arrived in Baghdad before sunrise Tuesday aboard an Air Force C-17 cargo plane for his second visit in three months. Rumsfeld met later Tuesday with Interim President Jalal Talabani, and Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who was designated interim prime minister last week.
"Anything that would delay that or disrupt that as a result of turbulence or incompetence or corruption in government would be unfortunate," Rumsfeld said before he began a round of talks with Iraqi leaders.
En route from Washington, Rumsfeld told reporters he would press the new Iraqi leadership to avoid delays on either the political or security front. "It's important that the new government be attentive to the competence of the people in the ministries and that they avoid unnecessary turbulence," Rumsfeld said, according to The AP.
Talabani said he had assured Rumsfeld that Iraq's interim leaders will work together. "We are planning to have the (permanent) government as soon as possible, but you know this is the beginning of democratization in Iraq," Talabani said.
Meanwhile, hours before Rumsfeld's arrival a U.S. contractor was kidnapped in the Baghdad area. An American Embassy spokesman said the American contractor, who was working on a reconstruction project, had been abducted around noon.
In Samarra, some 100 kms north of Baghdad, a pickup truck blew up near a U.S. patrol, killing three civilians and wounding more than 20 others, including four U.S. soldiers, officials said.