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Bush, Blair to hold summit on Iraq

Mideast, Ireland also on agenda

Bush and Blair near Crawford, Texas, April 2002.
Bush and Blair near Crawford, Texas, April 2002.

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The future of Iraq will be the focus of U.S. President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair's meeting in Northern Ireland. CNN's Chris Burns reports (April 7)
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The future of Iraq after the war and without Saddam Hussein will be the focus when U.S. President George Bush meets Monday with British Prime Minister Tony Blair for a summit in Northern Ireland.

Also on the agenda will be how to jumpstart peace efforts in the Middle East and Northern Ireland, according to the White House.

The hastily organized two-day summit comes after rapid coalition gains in Iraq, which have increased the urgency of discussing who should run the country after Saddam is gone.

Blair has called for a larger U.N. role in postwar Iraq -- a view at odds with the White House -- and the summit will attempt to reconcile those differences.

The Northern Ireland location was chosen in part because of its symbolic value. The "Good Friday" peace accord -- which created a new power-sharing authority with delegates representing Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic -- was signed five years ago this week.

Senior administration officials told CNN last week that the White House envisions a postwar, post-Saddam Iraq that includes Iraqi dissidents, exiles, Kurds, and other ethnic groups from within Iraq, but at no point would the country be solely administered by exiled Iraqis who have been angling for postwar power.

Immediately after the conflict ends, however, the White House wants a military force, commanded by U.S. Gen. Tommy Franks, and a civilian administration headed by retired Gen. Jay Garner, according to administration officials. The United States would help create an interim Iraqi authority.

Pace: Future of Iraq still in flux

On Monday British Central Command spokesman Air Marshal Brian Burridge backed a statement by Gen. Peter Pace, the vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said Sunday it was impossible to know at this point what a postwar Iraq will look like. (Post-war Iraq plan)

"The bottom line is that after we defeat the armed forces of Iraq, that we will want to and need to provide stability throughout that country," Pace said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "It will take a certain-sized force. We don't know what-sized force. But it will be those forces that will stabilize the environment, allow the government to begin to rebuild, and allow the Iraqi people to select the kind of government that they want."

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said he expects it to take more than six months to establish a government after the war.

"If I can paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, [the new government should be] of the Iraqis, by the Iraqis, for the Iraqis -- not to make them a colonial administration or a U.N. administration or run in any way by foreigners," Wolfowitz said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation." "But it's going to be [a] partnership of the coalition countries. The United Nations has an important role to play in that."

Sen. John Warner, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he agrees, but envisions perhaps a smaller role than the administration does.

"The president, through his secretary of state, said that the United Nations should be partners," Warner said on CNN's "Late Edition." "I add to that phrase yes, they should be partners, but the managing partners. In other words, those with the ultimate responsibility for the interim period should be representatives from the coalition forces."

Blair seeks U.N. role

Such ideas are prompting concerns from world leaders that the plan is doomed to fail without international input. Blair and other European leaders believe legitimacy will come if the United Nations endorses the new regime.

Many Democrats, the State Department, and Blair himself are pushing for more of a U.N. role.

"I think it's critically important for all kinds of reasons that this not be an American occupation," said Sen. Carl Levin, the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, on CNN.

"It would have been better if we had the support of the world community acting through the U.N. going in," he said. "It's important now in the post-conflict area that the world community be involved deeply in the reconstruction of Iraq."

Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was in Moscow Sunday to try to mend relations with Russia, one of the biggest opponents of the war in Iraq. Rice plans to join Bush and Blair later for the summit in Northern Ireland.

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