Rice lauds Iraqi reconciliation efforts

( AP ) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday that Iraq's national reconciliation has moved along "quite remarkably," citing a new law that lets thousands of former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party reclaim government jobs or pensions.

Rice, who split off from President Bush's Mideast tour for a surprise visit to Baghdad, said the Iraqi parliament's approval Saturday of the U.S.-sought benchmark law was a first step and showed that last year's "surge" of American forces was paying dividends.

"It is clearly a step forward for national reconciliation - a step forward for healing the wounds of the past, and it will have to be followed up by implementation that is in the same spirit of national reconciliation," she said during a news conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

Meanwhile, in an interview published Tuesday by The New York Times, Iraq's defense minister said the country would not be able to assume full responsibility for internal security until 2012 and be unable to defend its borders until at least 2018.

"According to our calculations and our timelines, we think that from the first quarter of 2009 until 2012 we will be able to take full control of the internal affairs of the country," said the minister, Abdul-Qader al-Obeidi.

"In regard to the borders, regarding protection from any external threats, our calculation appears that we are not going to be able to answer to any external threats until 2018 to 2020," he said.

Rice left Riyadh, the Saudi capital, to personally convey Bush's encouragement about signs of progress in Baghdad.

"I hope we will focus on what needs to be done, but also on how much has been done," Rice said. Although national reconciliation "has not always moved as fast as some of us sitting in Washington would like, it has certainly moved and, given the legacy, history and stains of tyranny, it has been quite remarkable," she said.

Bush said Rice could "help push the momentum by her very presence" and that he himself would not go to Iraq while traveling in the region. There had been widespread speculation he would make a visit.

In Baghdad, Rice met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and Iraqi officials said she congratulated him on the passage of the so-called de-Baathification legislation reinstating some former Saddam loyalists to government jobs.

Ali al-Dabbagh, al-Maliki's spokesman, said Rice and the prime minister met for about 45 minutes, of which 30 minutes were one-on-one. He said she also briefed him on Bush's trip.

The de-Baathification law is one of 18 steps which the United States considers benchmarks to promoting reconciliation among the country's Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.

A senior aide to al-Maliki said Rice also encouraged the prime minister to promote the progress of the other benchmark legislation, including provincial elections, constitutional amendments and a law to share the country's oil and gas resources among the different sects.

In northern Iraq on Tuesday, Turkish warplanes bombed Turkish Kurd rebel hideouts, the Turkish military announced.

It was the fourth aerial attack on rebel positions in northern Iraq since the military launched a bombing campaign on Dec. 16. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed on Monday to "finish" the rebels soon.

The Turkish bombardment started at about 11:30 a.m. and was still going on, said Zirar Mohammed, a top administrative official in the Iraqi border town of Sedakanil and Col. Hussein Tamir of the border forces in the city of Dahuk.

In the southern city of Basra, meanwhile, a fire broke out early Tuesday in a major oil refinery, burning four workers, the Iraqi oil ministry said.

Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said a preliminary investigation results showed that a U.S. helicopter hovering over the refinery was to blame - a statement disputed by the U.S. military.

It was not clear how a helicopter's presence could have caused the fire, though aircraft often release flares to ward off ground attacks.

Scott Rye, a U.S. military spokesman, told The Associated Press that "the cause of the fire is currently under investigation, but I can assure you it was not caused by overflight of any coalition helicopters."

The fire at the Shuaiba refinery started at 7 a.m. "due to an explosion," said Assem Jihad, the Oil Ministry spokesman. He said firefighters were able to control the fire, "which hit the gas unit," and that production was continuing.

Basra, where about 80 percent of Iraq's oil reserves are located, is Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad.

Subscribe to Trend in Google News! Subscribe
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price slightly falling
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price slightly falling
Iran's Subsidies Targeting Organization makes payments in agriculture sector
Iran's Subsidies Targeting Organization makes payments in agriculture sector
Iran to increase area of olive gardens
Iran to increase area of olive gardens
Loading Bars
Latest
SpaceX capsule with world's first all-civilian orbital crew splashes down off Florida
Indian gov't asks states to analyze COVID-19 situation, strengthen health infrastructure
Abu Dhabi to remove COVID-19 testing requirement at border starting Sep. 19
Facebook says WSJ allegations are 'mischaracterizations,' confer 'false motives'
Information made by Russian Defense Ministry regrettable - Azerbaijani Defense Ministry
EU eyes to expand project on creating 'green technologies' in Azerbaijan
Islamic State claims responsibility for attack on Syrian gas pipeline
Geostat shares data on nominal GDP in Georgia
Security Council voices concern over political strife in Somalia
Italy reports 51 coronavirus deaths on Saturday, 4,578 new cases
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price slightly falling
Another visit of Shusha residents to their hometown organized
Three killed in blasts in Afghan city of Jalalabad
Meeting of Azerbaijani and Russian military seamen held in Baku (PHOTO)
Ukraine intends to purchase textile products from Uzbekistan
Georgia's bean imports decrease
Kazakhstan-Croatia trade down y-o-y
Group of Azerbaijani pilots returns home after partaking in Turkey-held military exercises
Azerbaijan records slight decline in volume of cargo shipments via local ports in 8M2021
Iran's Subsidies Targeting Organization makes payments in agriculture sector
Representatives of Azerbaijani Air Force to take part in Teknofest-2021 festival
Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez reshuffles cabinet after political crisis
Iran to increase area of olive gardens
OIC Ombudsmen Association sums up results of fact-finding mission to Azerbaijani Karabakh (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan's Shusha holding concert within Int'l Music Festival of famous composer Uzeyir Hajibayli (PHOTO)
Azerbaijani First VP Mehriban Aliyeva shares post related to National Music Day on Instagram (PHOTO)
Azerbaijani mortar units continue intensive combat trainings (VIDEO)
Azerbaijan shares data on number of vaccinated citizens
Azerbaijan confirms 2,042 more COVID-19 cases, 3,224 recoveries
Azerbaijan and Georgia remain not only neighbors, but strategic partners - PM
Armenian military expert confirms use of Iskander missiles by Armenia against Azerbaijan
Uzbekistan Airways Technics opens tender for provision of services for sale of materials
Azerbaijan to promote famous composer Uzeyir Hajibayli's heritage worldwide - minister
Number of transactions on Uzbek stock exchange increases
Russian Navy's Caspian Fleet arrive in Baku port
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for September 18
Weekly review of Azerbaijani precious metals market
Uzbekistan reveals number of vaccinated citizens as of September 18
Iran, Tajikistan to increase trade ties
Turkmenistan considers resuming gas supply to Iran
Azerbaijan's Azermash launches new production line for vehicles
Volume of essential products imported to Iran through ports up
Kazakhstan boosts trade with Romania despite global pandemic
U.S. NTSB to probe fatal Tesla crash in Florida
Uzbekistan's private airline performs first flight to UAE
Azerbaijan and Iran hold discussions in connection with Gorus-Gafan road
Kazakh oil company to purchase pipes through tender
Georgia shares data on COVID-19 cases for September 18
MFA's of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan hold political consultations
Renowned Azerbaijani cultural figures arrive in Shusha
OSCE publishes interim report on local elections in Georgia
Azerbaijan’s Baku Metro opens tender to buy insulating materials
Uzbekneftegaz opens tender to buy equipment for turboexpander units
Kazakhstan's oil, gas company to purchase steel via tender
Weekly review of key developments in Azerbaijan's transport sector
IRICA shares data on import of COVID-19 vaccine to Iran
Azerbaijani oil prices up
Iran, Tajikistan sign several bilateral cooperation documents
Film on renowned Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli produced in Los Angeles
Russia organizes another charter flight to bring its citizens back from Turkmenistan
Weekly review of Azerbaijani currency market
Uzbekistan shares COVID-19 data for September 18
Iranian currency rates for September 18
Iran requires investment for development of joint gas fields - MP
USAID to allocate funds for Georgia to fight COVID-19
Who was behind WB's falsification of data on Azerbaijan in 'Doing Business' reports?
Turkmenistan’s Turkmenbashi oil refineries extends tender for overhaul
Iran receives batch of COVID-19 vaccine from Austria
Monetary conditions in Azerbaijan becoming anti-inflationary - Central Bank
SCO begins Iran's full membership process - MFA
Iran sees decrease in unemployment rate in Tehran
Uzbekneftegaz shares data on weekly oil prices on exchange trading
Gunman convicted in deadly Colorado school shooting gets life without parole
Hydrogen projects to raise demand for water supply via desalination
Oil prices to fall due to rising global oil supply, rather than dwindling demand
Akkuyu NPP construction never stopped for an hour despite pandemic — Rosatom chief
Beijing Stock Exchange specifies investor access thresholds
2,901 more COVID-19 cases reported in Kazakhstan
Georgia shows strong commitment to transitioning to clean energy - GGF
USAID supports citizen engagement in improving infrastructure in Balakan, Gakh and Zagatala (PHOTO/VİDEO)
Argentina's Fernandez reshuffles Cabinet after crisis week
Yemen's gov't complains to UNSC over Houthi attack on Mocha port
U.S. probes possible insider trading at Binance
UN Security Council extends Afghan mission mandate for six months
Oil prices decline amid U.S. dollar strength
G20 meeting on Afghanistan planned for September 22
Algeria's former President Bouteflika dies at 84
Turkey reports 27,692 daily COVID-19 cases
Taliban official discusses plans for fixed govt.
S. Korea shortens list of foreign arrivals subject to 2-week mandatory quarantine
Over 634,000 Afghans displaced by conflicts this year - UN agency
France recalls envoys in U.S, Australia over submarine deal
Russia to boost production of vaccines to 45 mln doses a month
Pentagon says Kabul drone strike killed 10 civilians in 'tragic mistake'
Turkey's chemical exports to Turkmenistan grow in 7M2021
UK removes 8 countries, including Turkey, from red travel list
Report of US Commission on Int'l Religious Freedom is biased - head of Azerbaijani State Committee (PHOTO)
OIC Ombudsmen Association's delegations inspects monument "Maraga-150" in Tartar (PHOTO)
Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan to resume flights
Turkmenistan, UN talk creation of national database on SDGs
All news