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Blair Makes Surprise Iraq Visit - 2004-12-21


British Prime Minister Tony Blair has paid a surprise visit to Iraq, meeting with interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi in Baghdad and visiting British troops in the southern city of Basra.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Mr. Allawi, Mr. Blair expressed hope that all Iraqis will take part in next month's elections. He referred to the country's election officials as "heroes who are risking their lives" to create a democratic Iraq.

On Sunday, gunmen in Baghdad dragged three Iraqi election workers from their car and executed them in broad daylight.

This was Mr. Blair's first visit to Baghdad. He has previously visited British troops stationed around Basra twice before. Mr. Blair is expected to continue on to Israel and the West Bank, for meetings with officials.

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

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