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4/19/03 - IRAQI DEMOCRACY MEETING - 2003-04-21

For many people, the ancient city of Ur in Iraq is the place where civilization began. And on April 15th, a meeting was held near Ur to begin the process of establishing democracy in Iraq. Dozens of Iraqis representing every part of the country participated in the meeting.

As U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “They began a discussion about their future, a future that will be free. . .of dictators, a future that will be based on democracy, a future that will be in the hands of a government that will be committed to values that the Iraqi people hold dear as human beings who want to live in freedom.”

In the weeks ahead, more such meetings will be held. Iraqi leaders will be identified and an interim authority established. Eventually, the interim authority will grow into a new, democratic government for the people of Iraq. It will be a government, said Secretary of State Powell, that uses Iraq’s wealth for the benefit of its people. Iraq will be “a nation that will no longer be pursuing terrorism, and no longer putting people in prison. . .will no longer be threatening its neighbors, [its] weapons of mass destruction gone.”

Along with democratic Turkey, a democratic Iraq can be an example, said Secretary of State Powell:

“Two strong Muslim nations -- showing that democracy is not something that has to be alien to Muslims and can work for Muslims. I hope that people throughout that part of the world will realize the benefits that come when you have a democratic form of government that is responsive to the needs of the people, uses the wealth of the country to benefit the people. I hope that that will become a more and more attractive political system throughout the region, as it is in many other parts of the world.”

Each nation has to find its own way. But as Secretary of State Powell said, there is no reason to be “fearful of democracy in the Middle East or in the [Persian] Gulf region.”