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Talabani Visits The United States

In an interview with the Voice of America, Iraqi president Jalal Talabani said that without the U.S.-led coalition, Iraq "would still be living in the yoke of the worst kind of dictatorship":

"The Iraqi dictatorship was launching a war of annihilation against the Iraqi people. If you have heard about the massacres, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are dead. You will see some graves [that] are special for children from one year to six years [in age]. Some graves are for children from six to twelve. The Iraqi people suffered more than forty years from the worst kind of dictatorship. From that, we think we are liberated."

On October 15th, a draft constitution will be put before the Iraqi people in a national referendum. The constitution was drafted by representatives of Iraqi Shiites, Kurds, Sunnis, and other groups. As drafted, the document contains contentious issues, such as federalism and the role of Islam. "Nobody is perfectly happy and nobody is perfectly unhappy," says Mr. Talabani, "but we learn to live with each other":

"The Iraqis chose their model for a democratic, independent Iraq. I think this model will be the best for the Iraqi people and for the Middle East. There are many kinds of democracy. We are taking the main principles of democracy: some from the United States, some from France, some from Switzerland."

Iraqis have begun the process of binding their multi-ethnic society together. "Instead of using guns to decide the fate of the future," says President George W. Bush, Iraqis wrote a new constitution. "The ultimate aim," he says, "is to establish a democracy that respects the will of the majority and protects minority rights."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.