- The Washington Times - Friday, September 17, 2004

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — President Bush said yesterday that he will host Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi at the White House next week, a day after he meets with half a dozen foreign leaders at the United Nations in New York.

“I’m looking forward to the American people hearing him,” the president said in a rally. “It’s important that we hear from someone there on the ground who believes that people want to be free, who believes that the people of Iraq really want to be free.”

In Washington, Mr. Allawi also will address a session of Congress.

Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said yesterday that, “Prime Minister Allawi is a strong leader who is moving forward on a plan to help the Iraqi people build democratic institutions and realize a free and peaceful future.”

Renewed violence in Iraq has pushed the story back onto front pages across the world. On Tuesday, a suicide car bomb attack on a police station killed 47 persons, the deadliest attack in Baghdad in six months.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-led coalition is fighting to regain control of guerrilla strongholds and restore security so elections can be held in January as planned. But there are growing doubts over the polls and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell this week conceded that they could not be held under current security conditions.

During his three-day trip to New York next week for the annual U.N. General Assembly opening session in New York, Mr. Bush will meet Tuesday with Mr. Allawi, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Mr. Annan this week asserted that the U.S.-led war, which occurred after the United States abandoned an effort to win an explicit Security Council resolution authorizing the war, was “illegal.”

Mr. Powell immediately chastised Mr. Annan, telling The Washington Times on Thursday that “we should all be gathering around the idea of helping the Iraqis, not getting into these kinds of side issues.” Mr. Annan called Mr. Powell yesterday to “reassure the United States” that he was not trying to “stir things up,” his spokesman said, as France came out in support of Mr. Annan’s earlier statement.

Also on Tuesday, Mr. Bush will address the United Nations General Assembly. White House sources speaking on the condition of anonymity said yesterday that he will make new proposals aimed at curbing terrorism and spreading democracy.

While Mr. McClellan would not preview the president’s speech to the United Nations, he asserted that, “there is a clear plan that the president outlined for success in Iraq and we’re moving to help the Iraqi people hold free elections and build a democratic future.”

The president stopped yesterday in North Carolina — home state of Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. John Edwards, where the latest polls show Mr. Bush with a double-digit lead — to push his agenda for women. In an event the White House dubbed “Focus on Women’s Issues,” the president talked about “flex-time” employment, popular among mothers employed part-time.

Recent surveys show the effort to attract women is paying off. Gallup polls taken after the Democratic National Convention showed women favoring Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry by five percentage points, 51 percent to 46 percent, but the nationwide race still tied. After the Republican convention, however, the president had pulled within a point, 49-48.

Other polls are even more dramatic. Time magazine in early August had Mr. Kerry leading Mr. Bush among women 50-36. By last week, the president had passed the Massachusetts liberal to lead 45-44.

But Kerry spokesman Phil Singer said the Bush administration is “trying to court women but it is not translating into help for women.”

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