- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 18, 2003

MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — Touring the country he has been entrusted to reconstruct, the top American civilian official here met yesterday with a city council billed as postwar Iraq’s first elected body and called it a “great example of embryonic democracy.”

L. Paul Bremer said the United States remained committed to establishing an interim national government without delay.

“We are intent on moving as quickly as possible,” Mr. Bremer said.

The trip to northern Iraq was Mr. Bremer’s first official visit outside Baghdad since the State Department’s former head of counterterrorism arrived in the country almost a week ago to lead the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance.

His visit to Mosul was received with bewilderment and curiosity — and at least one kiss on the cheek.

“Who is he?” an Iraqi asked as Mr. Bremer and his entourage walked the streets.

Mr. Bremer met privately with the 32-member council in a former municipal building in the center of Mosul, Iraq’s third-largest city. A soldier from the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division stood guard at the door with an assault rifle and attached grenade launcher.

The council, chosen May 5 by 230 electors from Mosul’s main families and ethnic groups, and endorsed by the U.S. military, has already moved to purge Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party loyalists from top public positions in the city.

Meanwhile the U.S. Central Command said three U.S. troops were killed and four were injured in three separate accidents in Iraq.

A soldier was killed and three were injured in the detonation of a piece of unexploded ordnance in Baghdad on Saturday. Yesterday, a soldier from the Fort Hood, Texas-based 4th Infantry Division died from a gunshot wound while a truck accident killed a U.S. Marine and injured another about 19 miles southeast of Al Samawah in southern Iraq.

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