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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

U.S. Military Briefing in Baghdad on Rebuilding Iraq

Aired April 24, 2003 - 07:08   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: In Baghdad, let's keep it there, a live press conference. Right now, General Jay Garner is talking with reporters in the Iraqi capital. We'll listen in quickly here to see what we can learn here.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

MAJ. GEN. TIM CROSS (RET.), BRITISH ARMY: ... to become the ministers of the various departments. Now, this is just -- and we need to be quite clear about this. This is not -- just not true.

(A), we are trying to internationalize that piece, and the Australians are working on an aspect of that; (B), we're trying to internationalize the teams that will work with these ministries; and, (C), nobody is going to run those ministries other than the Iraqis themselves. And I think we need to be absolutely clear about that.

LT. GEN. JAY GARNER (RET.), U.S./IRAQ RECON. ADMIN.: Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: I'd like to know how you're assigning (UNINTELLIGIBLE) personnel who are too close to the regime to be re-employed. How are you doing (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

GARNER: Well, we don't know who is in the ministries right now, but when we get the people back in the ministries, we'll do some (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of those people. But...

QUESTION: How?

GARNER: Well, we have a database for that. We (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: General, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Is it possible that U.S. forces are unwittingly assisting in the creation of an Iranian-style Islamic republic of Iraq here?

GARNER: That's the most ridiculous statement I've ever heard in my life.

(CROSSTALK)

CROSS: Probably not, is the answer.

GARNER: Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: We're hearing that the oil is starting to flow down in Basra, and with all of the oil-for-food program and the complexities, where does the money go from that? Is it used directly for the reconstruction? Is it going into that bank account? What's happening?

GARNER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) oil, but I'm going to get General Carl Strap (ph) from the Army Board of Engineers. He's handling (UNINTELLIGIBLE), then I'll talk about the (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we are talking about 175,000 barrels a day, and we're pumping that to the refinery in Basra and also into the power plants in that vicinity. This is strictly for (UNINTELLIGIBLE) use, for Iraqi internal use. This is not for export. We also anticipate in the next day or two to pump about 60,000 barrels a day and more into the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) refinery for the same purpose.

CROSS: Do you want to mention the gas?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gas as well is coming out of the north. We have a gas well operating, and this is critical for the operation of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) most of the electrical grid here in Baghdad.

GARNER: On the money-for-oil, all I can tell is what the president and the prime minister have said. They both have been very emphatic when they said the oil of Iraq was for the people of Iraq. And I assure you the revenues, once the sanctions are lifted (UNINTELLIGIBLE) all of the revenue (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Iraq and will be used for the Iraq people and the reconstruction of Iraq into the new Iraqi democratic government.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE). Will they actually be in charge of the...

GARNER: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just said that.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE).

GARNER: No, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). They're not in charge of that area. They're advisors (UNINTELLIGIBLE). They're good guys.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Have you visited the museum (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the museum (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

GARNER: A short visit. I didn't have enough time. It was a short visit to the museum.

QUESTION: Do you have any plans on how to get these art pieces back (UNINTELLIGIBLE)? There is an expert from the British museum I've heard is supposed to get (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

GARNER: Yes. QUESTION: Are there any plans (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

CROSS: The only sponsors -- I don't know the whole story. But you're quite right. There are various experts from around the world. I think that particular story of what's happened to the culture of Iraq over these last couple of weeks has obviously made a lot of headlines, and a lot of people want to be involved in helping.

I think there are two or three strands that are flowing. One is experts like that want to help. Secondly, there has been -- and you will know this better than I. Around the world people are keeping an eye open for any of these artifacts that appear in any of the art galleries around the world. And thirdly, as we spoke to the museum director this morning, he is convinced that quite a lot of this stuff remains in Baghdad. And one of the things that we will want to discuss over the next couple of days is what we can do about trying to find that and get it back to him.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE).

GARNER: Let me finish this question.

CROSS: What do you think?

GARNER: What we told him this morning is they've given us a prioritized list of what his needs are in that museum. Of course, there's a lot of other art museums and cultural centers here in Baghdad, and that's (UNINTELLIGIBLE), who is now coordinating for Baghdad. It will over time get to the rest of these cultural centers, and we'll do those sequentially.

We also told him that if he'll bring the workers back, we'll begin paying them. We told him that he could make a statement to the press that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to have the artifacts (UNINTELLIGIBLE). If they bring them back there will be no repercussions against them for taking them.

And then, he asked me about a reward system, and I told him I'd look into that. And I just wanted to re-answer that (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

Yes, sir.

HEMMER: As they go on rebuilding Iraq, they're going to rebuild the audio system there, too, in Baghdad. A bit difficult to hear a number of the answers there from General Jay Garner.

His British counterpart also chipping in there, a bit more clear in the signal there. But one of the questions clearly directed about the oil revenue in Iraq, with it flowing again in the southeastern part of the country near the city of Basra. Jay Garner, again, reiterating, as we have been told for many, many weeks now, that all of the revenues will eventually go back into the hands of the Iraqis. It is intended to stay right there in that country.

Earlier in the week, Jay Garner in the northern part of the country in Erbil, and this press conference today anyway, one of many to come in the near future as we go further along the process here of rebuilding the new Iraq.

More on that in a moment as the news breaks there in Baghdad.

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