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Iyad Allawi makes historic visit to Washingto -

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Iyad Allawi makes historic visit to Washington

AM - Friday, 24 September , 2004 08:00:00

Reporter: Leigh Sales

TONY EASTLEY: Leaving behind his tormented country riven by insurgency, hostage taking, lawlessness
and economic instability, interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has made his first visit to Washington
since assuming control of Iraq.

In a special address to the United States Congress, Mr Allawi was optimistic about his nation's
future, saying it's succeeding in moving towards democracy. Despite the obvious troubles at home,
he also predicts elections will take place, on schedule, in January.

Mr Allawi's arrival in the US is being presented as good news by President George W. Bush, in the
middle of an election campaign where Iraq is a key issue.

North America Correspondent Leigh Sales prepared this report.

ANNOUNCER: His excellency, Iyad Allawi, the interim Prime Minister of the Republic of Iraq.

(Applause and cheers)

LEIGH SALES: A standing ovation greeted Iyad Allawi at Capitol Hill.

IYAD ALLAWI: We are succeeding in Iraq.

(Applause)

LEIGH SALES: Against this week's backdrop of beheadings, hostage taking and violence in Iraq, Mr
Allawi gave a rosy assessment of his nation's progress towards democratic elections next year.

IYAD ALLAWI: I know that some have speculated, even doubted, whether this date can be met. So let
me be absolutely clear. Elections will occur in Iraq, on time in January, because Iraqis want
elections on time.

(Applause)

LEIGH SALES: Mr Allawi says most Iraqis are grateful the US-led coalition deposed Saddam Hussein.
But rather than focus on Saddam or the weapons of mass destruction, which were the basis for the
war, Mr Allawi talked more about terrorism.

IYAD ALLAWI: The costs now have been high. As we have lost our loved ones in this struggle, so have
you. As we have mourned, so have you. This is a bitter price of combating tyranny and terror.

LEIGH SALES: Mr Allawi's speech was calibrated to match the message coming from the Bush
administration.

GEORGE BUSH: What's important for the American people to hear is reality, and the reality is right
here in the form of the Prime Minister, and he is explaining what is happening on the ground.

LEIGH SALES: The White House is well aware that Iyad Allawi's sunny assessment, and talk of Iraq
being a front line in the war against terrorism, lends credibility to the Bush administration's
position.

GEORGE BUSH: See, I think that the Iraq theatre is a part of the war on terror. That's what the
Prime Minister said as well; he believes the same thing. He understands what's going on there,
after all, he lives there.

LEIGH SALES: In other words, he's telling Americans, believe Iyad Allawi before you believe
Democrat challenger John Kerry, who's trying to convince voters the President's misleading them on
Iraq.

JOHN KERRY: The Prime Minister and the President are here, obviously, to put their best face on the
policy. But the fact is that the CIA estimates, the reporting, the ground operations, and the
troops all tell a different story.

LEIGH SALES: Today, the commander of US Forces in the Middle East, General John Abizaid, said more
troops would be required to ensure elections can go ahead in Iraq in January.

This is Leigh Sales in Washington for AM.