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11/18/04 - UPCOMING IRAQ CONFERENCE  - 2004-11-18

On November 22nd and 23rd, an international conference to discuss Iraq's future will be held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says that at the conference "there will be an acknowledgment that the Iraqi interim government is deserving of the support of its neighbors and the international community so they can move toward elections in January."

Attending the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting will be officials from the U.S., the United Nations, the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations, and Arab and Muslim countries.

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says the meetings will offer a chance for U.S. officials to hear directly from Iraq's neighbors in a forum with others, and for them to hear directly from us":

"It's a meeting being organized by the Iraqis and the Egyptians, hosted by the Egyptians, for the purpose of discussing Iraq and how the G-8 and how the neighbors can support Iraq's peaceful and stable development."

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari says Iraq "want[s] international support for the political an elected, representative government." Mr. Zebari says he expects the conference to give "clear international backing for the transfer of sovereignty to an elected government and the process of political stabilization in Iraq."

Assistant Secretary of State William Burns says the U.S. "think[s] the conference is an important opportunity to help the Iraqis and to help the Iraqi government." He says, "The focus is on providing support for the Iraqi political process...for economic recovery, as well as on security in Iraq. Those are all areas," says Mr. Burns, "in which Iraq, its neighbors, and the international community have a deep stake."