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Bush seeks foreign money and troops to rebuild Iraq
( 2003-09-25 08:43) (Agencies)

President Bush sought foreign leaders' money and troops to help rebuild postwar Iraq on Wednesday, as a senior U.S. official said weapons inspectors would report no proof Baghdad had the banned arsenal used to justify the invasion.

Bush had his first formal meeting with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder since the German leader angered Washington by making opposition to military action against Iraq the centerpiece of his 2002 re-election campaign.

Meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, Bush and Schroeder said they had laid to rest their dispute over the war. Schroeder pledged economic assistance for reconstruction and training for Iraqi police and soldiers in Germany, but not peacekeepers on the ground.

In Iraq, two more bomb attacks targeted U.S. troops, underscoring the perils for countries considering U.S. requests for peacekeepers.

Polls have shown U.S. support for Bush slipping as costs and casualties in Iraq rise, and U.S. searches have unearthed neither ousted President Saddam Hussein nor his alleged weapons of mass destruction.

The senior U.S. official said the report by weapons inspector David Kay is expected to report finding "documentary evidence" that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons programs but no proof of actual arms themselves.

The report "generally will be about chemical and biological weapons and I think he's going to find evidence, documentary evidence, statements by Iraqi scientists and technicians, that they had chemical and biological weapons production programs," said the official, who requested anonymity.

"Whether they will find or disclose anything on the weapons themselves, I doubt," he added.

The official also said that former Iraqi Defense Minister Sultan Hashim Ahmed, who surrendered to U.S. forces, was given "effective" immunity from prosecution and Washington has high hopes he will provide significant information on Saddam's weapons activities.

The CIA described the Kay report as an initial document that will "reach no firm conclusions."


Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld pressed his case for $87 billion to occupy and rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan to divided U.S. legislators concerned about rising costs and the steady toll on U.S. troops.

In less than five months since the end of major combat, he told the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee that U.S.-led military and civilian forces have "racked up a series of achievements in both security and civil reconstruction that may very well be without precedent."

In a separate hearing in Washington, the U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that security depended on quick action by lawmakers.

"Some Iraqis are beginning to regard us as occupiers and not as liberators. Let's not hide the fact," Bremer said. "This is urgent."

The Bush administration said it plans to create a special force to protect Iraq's oil industry and deploy a rapid reaction team to repair pipelines after sabotage.

It also plans deploy a 10,800-strong, lightly armed paramilitary force across Iraq to help conduct searches and man checkpoints to support U.S. troops, as well as a 1,500-member international police training force, according to documents obtained by Reuters.

Bush was to meet later with the leaders of Pakistan and India, who both are stalling on U.S. requests for troops to police Iraq in the face of strong domestic opposition.


In Baghdad, a roadside bomb apparently aimed at U.S. troops tore through two commuter buses in the capital, killing an Iraqi and wounding about 20 others.

In the northern city of Mosul, a blast ripped through a cinema, causing several casualties, local people said. Shopkeepers said they saw about 20 people carried out of the building, some of them with very serious wounds.

Three Iraqi police were recovering from another incident overnight in which they said a U.S. soldier was also wounded, while elsewhere in the city troops sealed off a road tunnel to deal with explosives found there.

The Pentagon said it may be forced in coming weeks to alert thousands of additional National Guard and Reserve troops they may be needed for duty in Iraq if other countries do not provide a third multinational division to serve there.

A total of 195 U.S. troops have been killed in combat and attacks since the invasion of Iraq, 79 since major combat was declared over.

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