Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Thursday, April 10, 2003

US, Iraqis to Meet Soon on Interim Government: Cheney

Officials from the United States and Iraq will meet in southern Iraq on Saturday to begin planning for an interim Iraqi government, US Vice President Dick Cheney said on Wednesday.


Officials from the United States and Iraq will meet in southern Iraq on Saturday to begin planning for an interim Iraqi government, US Vice President Dick Cheney said on Wednesday.

Cheney made the announcement at a meeting of US newspaper editors in New Orleans, Louisiana.

"We will bring together representatives of groups from all over Iraq to begin to sit down and talk about planning for the future of this Iraqi interim authority and getting it up and running," he said.

He said the meeting would be held near Nassiriyah in southern Iraq.

Cheney also said that there may be hard fighting in Iraq because forces loyal to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's government are still in control in northern Iraq.

"There may well be hard fighting yet ahead," Cheney he said.

Saddam's forces are "still in control in northern Iraq, in Mosul and Kirkuk and Tikrit," Cheney said.

But he said that while pockets of Saddam's security forces may remain in Baghdad, they appear to be far less effective at putting up any resistance.

Saddam's fate remains a mystery after Monday's B-1 bomber strike on a Baghdad building where US officials suspected he was meeting with senior aides, but US officials said there were signs that his regime has lost control of the country.

In New York, Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations Mohammed al-Douri said Wednesday that "the game is over" after US-led forces took control of Baghdad.

He said he meant the war is over when asked to clarify by reporters outside his residence in New York.

"My work now is peace. I hope the peace will prevail, and the Iraqi people at the end of the day would have a peaceful life," he said.

Key Developments in the War Against Iraq
_ Liberated by US-led troops, thousands of Iraqis on Wednesday celebrated the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime, toppling a statue of their longtime ruler in the center of Baghdad and looting government sites.

_ Marine and Army units swept through Baghdad � seizing or destroying buildings almost at will � but pockets of fierce resistance remained as looting took hold in some parts of the city.

_ Coalition forces began to turn their attention north toward Tikrit, Saddam's home town.

_ With the fall of Baghdad, top priorities for American forces in Iraq become recovering U.S. prisoners of war � including any still alive from the 1991 Gulf War � securing northern oil fields and unearthing illegal weapons, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said.

_ Rumsfeld also said the United States is offering an unspecified reward to Iraqis who provide information about government officials and weapons of mass destruction, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said.

_ Iraq's UN ambassador, Mohammed Al-Douri, said "the game is over" and expressed hope that the Iraqi people will be able to live in peace.

_ Prime Minister Tony Blair said it was difficult to know what was left of the higher ranks of the Iraqi government, and therefore who would be in position to surrender to advancing coalition forces.

_ Vice President Dick Cheney said the United States and its allies will lead Iraq's transition to a new government once the war is over and the United Nations should lead the relief work.

_ Saddam's whereabouts remained a mystery after an attempt to kill him with a bomb attack Monday. Opposition Iraqis say he may have escaped the city.

_ Iraqi opposition leader Ahmad Chalabi urged the US-led interim administration to leave Kuwait City and move quickly into Iraq.

_ The British and French foreign ministers agreed that coalition troops are needed to secure Iraq, but France repeated demands for a "central" United Nations role in rebuilding the country.

_ US special operations troops and Kurdish fighters eliminated a crucial air defense installation near the government-held city of Mosul. But fighting in the north was not over, and strategic oil fields near the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk remained under Iraqi control.

_ A Canadian worker for the International Committee of the Red Cross was killed when gunfire strafed his car while driving through Baghdad.

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