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Rumsfeld urges Iraq to meet constitution deadline
Updated: 2005-07-27 14:35

U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made an unannounced visit to Baghdad on Wednesday, urging Iraqis to finish their draft constitution before an August 15 deadline.

"We don't want any delays," Rumsfeld told reporters. "Now's the time to get on with it."

He also said Iraqi leaders should resist what he described as interference by neighbours Syria and Iran. Washington accuses Syria of allowing militants to enter Iraq, and says Iran is trying to gain political influence in Baghdad.

A committee drafting Iraq's new constitution resumed work on Tuesday after a six-day boycott by Sunni Arab members, one of whom was assassinated last week.

The constitution is due by August 15. The drafters can call a six month extension on August 1 if they are not ready, but committee chairman Humam Hamoudi has said the draft will be finished on time.

Rumsfeld said he felt "very strongly" a delay would be wrong.

He also said the United States was working to prepare Iraqis to take control of the roughly 15,000-16,000 Iraqi detainees now held by U.S. forces.

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