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11/1/04 - SIGNS OF PROGRESS IN IRAQ  - 2004-11-01

The terrorists who murdered forty-nine unarmed Iraqi army recruits will not stop the emergence of a democratic Iraq. Despite the efforts of foreign terrorists and Iraqi insurgents, including remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime, the Iraqi people are establishing political parties and are preparing for a presidential election in January.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says there are other signs of progress as well:

"It is different in different parts of the country, to be sure, but it is a very different one from what the people here in the United States see. The schools are open with new books. The clinics are open. There's a stock market. . . . The electricity is at or better than where it was. It [Iraq} is not burning and smoking in a way that one believes it to be by watching television."

More than two-million-five-hundred-thousand barrels of oil are being produced each day. Recently, oil exports have been averaging one-million-five-hundred-thousand barrels per day. Mr. Rumsfeld says, "Iraq is determined to fight the terrorists and to build over time a peaceful society":

"Iraq now has an interim constitution that includes a bill of rights and an independent judiciary. There are municipal councils in almost every major city in Iraq, most towns and most villages, and provincial councils for all of the eighteen provinces. The Iraqis are now among those in the world who are allowed to say and write and watch and listen to whatever they want and whenever they want, and it's clear that governments and the people in the Middle East are taking note."

The progress will continue. The U.S. supports the international conference on Iraq organized by the Iraqi interim government and the government of Egypt. The conference will be held November 22nd and 23rd in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The U.S. understands that participants will include the Iraqi interim government, representatives of the Group of Eight countries, China, the European Union, the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and the United Nations.

"It's a tough struggle with setbacks," says Iyad Allawi, Iraq's prime minister, "but we are succeeding." Mr. Allawi says, "For the first time in our history, the Iraqi people can look forward to controlling our own destiny."