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[casi] Blair Admits Post-War Plan Splits

Last Updated:  Wednesday, 2 April, 2003, 17:47 GMT 18:47 UK
Blair admits post-war plan splits
Tony Blair has said there are differences over who should run a post-war interim administration in 

But as one of his ministers outlined the UK's plan, the prime minister stressed everybody agreed 
Iraq should be governed as soon as possible by Iraqis, rather than the coalition or the UN.

At his weekly question time session, he also told MPs that Saddam Hussein planned to desecrate 
religious sites and blame the damage on the coalition forces.

The prime minister, who also ruled out UK military action against Iran and Syria, said: "The fact 
that Saddam is prepared to use these tactics underlines once again the nature of his regime."

 But Iraq's Information Minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf said US planes were targeting the 

Mr Blair told the Commons he accepted there were differences of view within the UN about post-war 

But he added: "I think those differences are reconcilable, if we understand that once the conflict 
ends, of course the coalition forces will be there.

"It's then important that we work as coalition forces and coalition countries, in close 
consultation and partnership with the UN, to try to develop the right type of Iraqi interim 
authority that will be Iraqi in nature."

UK plans

Downing Street rejects suggestions that the UK's vision of the UN playing a leading role after the 
war is at odds with statements from the US administration.

There have been reports in America suggesting the US would appoint 23 American ministers, headed by 
retired general Jay Garner, to run Iraq after the conflict.

UK Foreign Office Minister Mike O'Brien said it was planned for General Garner to lead a team, 
including six UK officials, to advise and make decisions about running basic services in the "few 
weeks" after a war.

He would "hopefully" operate with a UN special commissioner and, as soon as possible, with the 
basis of an Iraqi administration, Mr O'Brien told BBC Radio 4's World At One.

 A UN conference would then bring Iraq's various racial, religious and regional groups together to 
form an interim government after the conflict, paving the way for elections.

The conference would be similar to that of the Bonn conference in 2001, which helped form a new 
government in post-war Afghanistan.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw will discuss the shape of post-war Iraq when he meets his German 
counterpart Joshka Fischer on Wednesday.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell will outline how the US sees the future of Iraq when he meets 
European Union officials and Nato representatives in Brussels on Thursday.

Syria warning

Comments by his colleague, the US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, has forced the UK Government 
to rule out further action against Iran or Syria.

Mr Rumsfeld said America would hold Syria accountable for "hostile acts" and also warned Iran not 
to become involved in the conflict.

Mr Blair said it was unacceptable if Syria was supplying Iraqi forces or if Iran was training enemy 
militia, as the US alleges.

But, in echoing an earlier statement from Mr Straw, he added: "However, we maintain relations with 
both those countries to make sure those things do not happen."

After Question Time, Mr Blair's official spokesman said it was still unknown whether Saddam Hussein 
was alive or dead, amid renewed speculation about his health when his address to the nation was 
delivered on his behalf.

The spokesman said: "He appears temporarily at least to have made himself scarce."

As UK troops continued to consolidate their positions in the south of the country, the spokesman 
said the "endgame" was still ahead and warned of more casualties.

Copyright BBC

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