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5/2/03 - NO OUTSIDE INFLUENCE IN IRAQ - 2003-05-05

The United States-led coalition wants to help the people of Iraq create a government that is democratic and multiethnic, that maintains Iraq's territorial integrity and has no weapons of mass destruction and that is at peace with its neighbors. But Iran is trying to use elements of Iraq's Shia community to replace Saddam Hussein's regime with an Iranian-style Islamic dictatorship.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has made it clear that "a vocal minority claiming to transform Iraq into Iran will not be permitted to do so:"

"My impression is that the Iraqi people will not want to have excessive influence from neighboring countries, that they will want to find an Iraqi solution, not an Iranian solution. And certainly, we would not want to see a government like [that in] Iran. . . .imposed on the people of Iraq."

Iranian-trained agents have reportedly crossed into southern Iraq and are working to influence the populace in several Iraqi cities. But Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said that the U.S.- led coalition will not allow "the Iraqi people's democratic transition to be hijacked by those who might wish to install another form of dictatorship.":

"The United States and the coalition forces are not going to allow neighboring forces to attempt to influence the outcomes in Iraq. The Iraqi people are going to make those judgements and while we're there, we intend to see that that's the case."

It is up to the people of Iraq to decide their own future. In the words of President George W. Bush:

"America has no intention of imposing our form of government or our culture. Yet we will ensure that all Iraqis have a voice in the new government and all citizens have their rights protected."

"America pledged to rid Iraq of an oppressive regime," said Mr. Bush. "America now pledges to help Iraqis build a prosperous and peaceful nation."