- The Washington Times - Monday, September 20, 2004

LONDON — Iraq’s interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, urged the United Nations yesterday to do “whatever it takes” to make sure democratic elections come off as planned in January.

Mr. Allawi, embarking on a trans-Atlantic mission to shore up support for his government, stopped in London for two days of talks with Prime Minister Tony Blair and his government en route to the United States for a White House meeting with President Bush and a visit to the United Nations in New York.

Midway through their meeting yesterday at the prime minister’s Downing Street office, the Iraqi leader and Mr. Blair broke off to tell a reporters that victory for democracy in Iraq is vital in the fight against international terrorism.

“We are adamant that democracy is going to prevail and is going to win in Iraq,” said Mr. Allawi, sounding a confident note despite the violence in his country that has left more than 300 people dead in the past week alone.

The horrors continued yesterday when authorities discovered the decapitated bodies of three men identified as members of a militia associated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party in northern Iraq.

A militant Web site carried a videotape showing militants chopping the head off each man and placing it on his body. An accompanying statement claimed responsibility on behalf of the Ansar al-Sunna Army — a Sunni group that said it killed 12 Nepalese hostages last month.

Also yesterday, a suicide car bomb killed three persons in the northern city of Samarra, which U.S. forces entered last week for the first time in almost four months after negotiating a deal with tribal leaders for millions of dollars in reconstruction funds.

The blast killed an Iraqi soldier, a civilian and the suicide bomber and wounded four American and three Iraqi soldiers, Maj. Neal O’Brien of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division told the Associated Press.

In London, both Mr. Allawi and Mr. Blair said the elections set for January are the key to restoring stability in Iraq.

“We definitely are going to stick to the timetable of elections in January next year,” Mr. Allawi insisted.

But the Iraqi leader made it clear that his country needs all the help it can get to make that happen. “I call upon the United Nations to help us in providing whatever it takes to make the elections a success,” he said.

Mr. Allawi did not elaborate on exactly what sort of help he envisioned, but Middle East observers in Britain said that could take the form of a request for U.N. observers to help supervise the run-up to the elections and possibly peacekeepers to patrol the polling stations.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan may already be braced for such a request. He said last week that the immense problems posed by security — or a lack of it — in Iraq could make it impossible to hold “credible elections” in the war-torn nation.

But minutes before Mr. Allawi’s Downing Street meeting, his foreign minister, Hoshiyar Zebari, slammed the United Nations for dragging its feet.

“They are not doing enough to help us” organize a framework for the elections, he told the British Broadcasting Corp. in a televised interview. “Up until now,” Mr. Zebari said, U.N. officials “have only about 30 international staffers” in Iraq.

Preparations for the elections are expected to figure prominently in the talks when Mr. Allawi sits down with Mr. Bush later this week. The Iraqi leader also is scheduled to meet with leaders of Congress.

Mr. Blair, who faces an election of his own next year, insisted at yesterday’s press conference that coalition forces “are succeeding in Iraq.”

“We are succeeding against the forces of evil,” he said. “In this conflict now taking place in Iraq, this is the crucible in which the future of this global terrorism will be determined.”

“Either it will succeed, and this terrorism will grow,” he added, “or we will succeed, the Iraqi people will succeed, and this global terrorism will be delivered a huge defeat.”

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