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Powell to Allies: Stay to Deal With Threat - 2004-03-20


U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell visited Baghdad today (Friday) to pay tribute to U.S. troops, and urge coalition allies to stay and help deal with what he called a "threat to the civilized world."

Several hours after Mr. Powell left Iraq, several explosions were heard in central Baghdad. It was not clear what caused the explosions, but in the past, insurgents have fired mortars at the so-called Green Zone where the U.S. led coalition maintains its headquarters.

Mr. Powell said despite continuing attacks on coalition forces and Iraqi civilians, plans to transfer power to Iraqis by June 30th are on track. He said the U.S. led coalition still has much work to do in law enforcement and intelligence to deal with terrorist threats.

Arab journalists walked out of Mr. Powell's news conference to protest the lack of security in Iraq and Thursday's killing, blamed on U.S. troops, of two Iraqi journalists from Dubai-based Al Arabiya television.

In other news, several thousand Sunni and Shi'ite Muslim Iraqis held a joint demonstration after Friday prayers in Baghdad to protest the presence of U.S. troops a year after the invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein. Marchers chanted "No to America, No to Saddam, Yes to Islam."

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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