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TIME: 9:03 A.M. EST

MR. SENOR: Good afternoon. A couple of quick administrative items and a short statement. And then General Kimmitt will have an opening statement. And then we will be happy to take the questions.

As far as Ambassador Bremer's schedule is concerned, yesterday the ambassador traveled up north to Irbil and other surrounding northern Iraq areas to show solidarity with those communities afflicted by the tragedy of this past Sunday. He visited with a number of Kurdish leaders and a number of families that were the families of Sunday's victims.

Today Ambassador Bremer's attended a commander and regional coordinator's conference for CPA and the CTJF-7; that is, a conference of division commanders and CPA regional civilian field staff. He spent several hours there, addressing a number of issues relating to the implementation of the November 15th agreement and other issues as we lead up to the June 30th handover of sovereignty.

As I often do from this podium, point to areas in which Iraqi life -- the Iraqi economy, other areas of Iraqi society are returning to normalcy. Just to point to two examples -- and if you're interested in following up with details, you can contact or meet with Jared Young or Susan Phalen (ph) in the international press center.

The Iraqi Ministry of Transportation -- on this note, the Iraqi Ministry of Transportation has restored rail services between Baghdad and Mosul. Daily train services between Baghdad and Mosul were suspended in late December due to the inflammable effects of a ruptured oil pipeline five kilometers from a rail (cover ?). At that time the Iraqi Ministry of Transport decided to close the line as a safety precaution. The rail lines are no longer in immediate danger, and the Iraqi Ministry of Transport has determined it is safe to reopen the Baghdad-Mosul line.

Just a point of background: The Iraqi Republic Railway operates daily passenger services between Baghdad and Basra, Baghdad and Asiba (ph), Baghdad and Mosul again, and Mosul and Aleppo in Syria.

International rail services between Iraq and Syria reopened in August, after more than 20 years. The CPA is in the process of spending $210 million on railroad rehabilitation, rebuilding and expansion. So far, approximately 70 kilometers of track has been rehabilitated, including in the north and on the Baghdad-Basra line.

A group of six Iraqi Republic Railway senior managers recently visited the United States. They visited Chicago, Illinois, Washington, D.C. and Omaha, Nebraska, to see how the U.S. railroad system operates. They held meetings with General Motors, General Electric, Amtrak and Union Pacific. Again, if you want more details on the reestablishment of the Mosul-Baghdad line, please get in touch with Jared or Susan following today's press conference, or any day in the next few days, and they can direct you to individuals to speak to.

General Kimmitt.

GEN. KIMMITT: Good afternoon. The area of operations remains relatively stable. Over the past week there have been an average of 24 engagements daily against coalition forces, just under three attacks daily against Iraqi security forces, and just over one attack daily against Iraqi civilians.

The coalition remains offensively oriented in order to proactively attack, kill or capture anti-coalition elements and anti-Iraqi elements; to also obtain intelligence for future operations, and to assure the people of Iraq of our determination to maintain a safe and secure environment.

To that end, in the past 24 hours, the coalition has conducted 1,531 patrols, 14 offensive operations, 14 raids, and captured 91 anti-coalition suspects.

In the northern zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 160 patrols, four offensive operations, and detained 28 anti-coalition suspects.

Last night, coalition forces conducted a raid in Qarah Qush, and detained a high-value target, General Elias Boutros (ph), along with three other individuals. As part of this raid, computer and documents were also seized.

In the north-central zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 160 patrols, four raids, and captured 50 individuals.

Over the past two days in the north-central zone of operations, coalition forces conducted a series of raids in the vicinity of Tikrit, Al Shaqwat (ph), Kanan (ph), Abayach (ph) and Mukisa (ph). Forty-nine persons, including 20 targets, were captured.

Ali Qunohar Salah (ph), a major general in the regime's former military, knowing he was wanted for questioning by coalition forces, turned himself in yesterday. Coalition soldiers made an attempt to capture Salah (ph) in a previous raid.

In Baghdad, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 555 patrols, 44 missions, escort missions, and captured nine enemy personnel. A joint U.S. and Iraqi civil defense corps cordon and search targeted Taya Al Safah (ph), a former Ba'ath Party leader and Iraqi intelligence service officer. The Civil Defense Corps soldiers captured the target and another Iraqi, and confiscated weapons, ammunition, and an amount of Iraqi intelligence service paperwork.

In Baghdad, a patrol noticed a suspicious man at an intersection of two coalition routes. The unit stopped the man, searched him, and found a remote-control device. A vapor trace test on the man came up positive for ammonium nitrate and nitroglycerine. The unit also captured three additional Iraqis who were at the suspect's residence.

In the western zone of operations, coalition forces and Iraqi security forces conducted 253 patrols, including 17 independent Iraqi Civil Defense Corps patrols, and captured four enemy personnel. Paratroopers of the 3rd Brigade 82nd Airborne conducted a cordon and search south of Nasir Wal Al-Salam (ph) to kill or capture a cell leader, Talid Scar Aswad (ph), believed to be responsible for recent attacks against the Abu Ghraib Prison. The operation was conducted without incident, and resulted in the capture of the primary target and two other personnel.

A Facilities Protection Service checkpoint was conducting random vehicle searches when the officers were engaged with small arms fire north of Mahmudiyah. While the FPS guards conducted a vehicle search, a second vehicle approached and initiated fire against the officers, killing one and wounding another. The FPS guards returned fire but were unable to maintain fire.

Yesterday, 82 pilgrims in four buses crossed back into Iraq at the Arrar border crossing as they returned from the hajj. Iraqi Border Police and Iraqi customs personnel continued to operate the border-crossing site, with only minimum coalition assistance.

In the central south zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 85 patrols, established 25 checkpoints, and escorted 35 convoys. Civil-military cooperation soldiers dispersed $190,000 in commander emergency response program funds for gas stations improvements in Bashara (ph), Kashadiya (ph), Adara (ph) and Falih (ph).

MR. SENOR: And with that we'll be happy to take your questions. Yes, sir?

Q (Arabic not translated.)

MR. SENOR: I'll let General Kimmitt answer the second question.

On the first question, my understanding is that the secretary general has not made any recommendations at this point; that he is merely in the process of deploying a team, a security team, and an electoral team, to look at the viability of direct elections between now and June 30th. He has indicated that once his team has some time on the ground, some opportunity to look at this situation, and talk to a number of people and do fact-finding and analysis -- and fact-finding and analysis that is independent -- the U.N. will be operating as an independent entity in Iraq -- we will be here to provide them logistical and security support, but we will not be coordinating with them. It is something that they are doing on their own. And once they have the opportunity to do that, presumably they will make recommendations. But anything more detailed than that, I would refer you to the United Nations.


GEN. KIMMITT: Yes, with regard to Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, we have not captured him. There remains a $10 million reward for information leading to his death or capture.

MR. SENOR: Yes, sir?

Q Did the U.N. fact-finding team arrive this morning? And also Ambassador Bremer had the scheduled commitment with the U.N. team?

MR. SENOR: I will not be commenting at all on the schedule or activities of the U.N. teams. All those questions I refer to the U.N. We will provide a point of contact with the U.N., with Jared and Susan in the press center. That I think will be available later today or tomorrow morning. So you should use that point of contact. We will not be commenting on these matters. Nor will we be commenting on our interactions with them. If they want to conduct meetings and briefings, but all means we will available to them. We are here to provide them information. We are here to provide them logistical support. We are here to provide them technical support. We are here to provide them security support. But it is at their best. And those decisions and those requests will come from them, and they will comment on them.

Yes, sir?

Q Evan Osnos from the Chicago Tribune. Ambassador Bremer has talked about the possibility of refinements to the November 15th agreement, and there are reports now out of Washington and the U.N. and out of Baghdad about the prospects of those refinements. Can you talk a little bit about what is under consideration that might perfect the document as you see it?

MR. SENOR: It is a -- I don't know which specific refinements you're referring to, so it's difficult for me to comment on anything specifically. I do know though that after the November 15th agreement, during the negotiations of the November 15 agreement, the parties, the Governing Council and Ambassador Bremer, agreed that while we are going to move forward on the implementation of the agreement, we would be open to refinements, to elaborations, to clarifications of the process. And we continue to be open to those. And certainly we'd be open to recommendations for those clarifications from any U.N. teams that spend some time here.

I don't want to prejudge the outcome of the U.N. team's activities here. I don't want to prejudge the outcome of discussions about proposals, clarifications or elaborations while there are discussions going on. I'd rather let the process play out and comment on them after the fact. It's just a little too early right now to begin speculation. There's a lot of ideas bouncing around. None of them have real traction at this point. They're just in discussion mode, and I'd rather keep them at that before I give you an official statement.


Q (Off mike)?

MR. SENOR: Could you turn on your mike, please?

Q Kristen Gillespie, CBS Radio. How much weight will the U.N. team's recommendations carry with you?

MR. SENOR: The U.N. has tremendous expertise in the area of elections and other constitution-drafting related areas, certainly in developing countries that are in a state similar to Iraq's right now. That's why we fully understood and fully supported the Governing Council's decision to request the U.N. to come in and take a closer look at the situation. And we'll let that process play out. Again, I really don't want to get in the habit of speculating with you all on what the U.N. -- what path the U.N. is going to go down, what the range of paths they could go down, what our reaction would be to each path. It's a very fluid and vibrant process, and I'm not going to comment on it while that process is ongoing.

Yes, sir?

Q (Arabic not translated.)

MR. SENOR: I am not familiar with the specific issue. It is something I will look into and have Jared and Susan follow up with you. Clearly with our deployment of over $18 billion from the United States alone in U.S. taxpayer funding to work on the reconstruction, to help provide life to the economy, to help set Iraq on a path towards information independence for the long run, we'll take into consideration how to address these matters -- how to move the country forward in a way that is both economically competitive and environmentally friendly. Any more detail than that, I'd have to look into for you.

Yes, Dexter?

Q This is for General Kimmitt. General, can you talk about what your responsibilities are regarding security for the United Nations team, and just generally how confident you are that they are not going to be harmed when they're here?

GEN. KIMMITT: At this point, one of the ways we're going to protect the security of the United Nations team while it's here is not comment on any aspect of that security.

MR. SENOR: Yes, sir?

Q Thanks. Brent Sadler from CNN, a question for General Kimmitt. Can you give us some recent background and up-to-date information on the numbers of killings and assassinations that have been taking place by unknowns against intellectuals, Iraqi intellectuals, and against management levels in newly reformed institutions, such as universities, the health service, the power services and so on, and what the aim of these attacks are to take out these individual people -- it's been going on for a number of months -- and whether or not the numbers of attacks/killings are remaining static or increasing or decreasing. Thank you.

GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah, sure. Since August, the number of reported attacks against political and government officials has stayed in a range of 10 to 15 attacks per month with roughly one to five deaths per month. However, if you add in not only the government officials, but you also talk in the security officials, such as the ICDC and the Iraqi police service, the numbers rise dramatically. We've had about 300 Iraqi police killed in the line of duty since the restarting of the Iraqi police service -- and those numbers of going up of late, the trend line is going up. We have more and more Iraqi police on the street, more and more killed in the line of duty, defending their country and providing security for the people of Iraq.

Q One more follow-up, if we could just finish with that. The actual -- it was quoted in one of the newspapers that these unknowns are going for the brains of Iraq -- they're going for the heads of institutions, reforming institutions. What impact does that have? What's the modus operandi do you think for going for those people?

MR. SENOR: I think there's a concerted effort by those that are trying to turn the clock back on Iraq to isolate the coalition, to isolate the leaders of the coalition. They've tried to do that recently by attacking Iraqi institutions and Iraqi individuals and Iraqi political leaders that are cooperating with the coalition. They have done that by attacking individual coalition members -- not only the United States, but Spain, but Japan and Italy. They do that by attacking international organizations that are playing a role here.

What's important to recognize though -- that every one of those areas -- there are individuals and there are institutions and there are leaders who are not being affected by that effort to break the will. Certainly we're encouraged by the fact that the United Nations is back, taking a closer look at what role they are going to play in Iraq going forward. Ambassador Bremer said he regretted their decision to depart after the August 19th bombing. attacks against Iraqi police, a number of Iraqi police chiefs, police officers, have been killed. Yet recruitment numbers for Iraqi police continues to go up and up. Overall, the number of Iraqi security forces today is well over 150,000. There are more Iraqis serving in security positions in their own country today than there are Americans in security positions in Iraq today.

Iraqi political leaders continue to step forward. The specific intellectuals, if you will, and the sort of mid-level managers of institutions that you referenced have been playing an increasingly visible role -- certainly after the capture of Saddam Hussein, where we have seen a real spike in their activities, as evidenced in the town hall meetings that have been taking place in Mosul and Basra and Baqubah, where Iraqi political leaders, intellectuals and community leaders are stepping forward and playing a very visible role in front of the press, in front of their fellow citizens. So, yes, the focus by the insurgents, the elements of the former regime, the foreign fighters, the terrorists that are coming to this country, is to break our will by isolating us with attacks against all these other institutions and individuals that are working with us. It's important to recognize the will of all these institutions and all these individuals and all these coalition partners who are continuing to stand fast with us as we continue to move forward towards the June 30th deadline.

Yes, ma'am?

Q (Arabic not translated.)

GEN. KIMMITT: I'm not aware of any American investigation team having made those comments, and I don't want to give credibility to those comments until we see those reports.

MR. SENOR: Yes, sir?

Q Yes, sir, Don Teague with NBC News. In light of Secretary Rumsfeld's memo asking for review of procedures to look at sexual assault against female troops and trying to prevent that, can you talk a little bit about what procedures are in place here in Iraq and Kuwait, and if any immediate changes are expected or required in your view?

GEN. KIMMITT: Well, certainly we take the matter of sexual harassment very seriously. And with regards to training that is conducted, there is annual training for sexual harassment that is conducted in all branches of the service.

With regards to any allegations of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, we take those allegations very seriously. We conduct investigations very thoroughly, and as necessary punish those appropriately.

MR. SENOR: Yes, sir?

Q In Arabic please. (Arabic not translated.)

MR. SENOR: As far as the June 30th deadline is concerned, we are moving forward on implementation of the November 15th political agreement, focused like a laser beam on the handover of sovereignty to the Iraqi people on June 30th. No other option is under serious consideration. We are moving forward with implementation, with June 30, with the June 30th deadline clearly in our sights.

And I refer you to President Bush's State of the Union address where he specifically in his speech referenced the June 30th deadline.

GEN. KIMMITT: With regards to the arming of the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi Police Service, the Civil Defense Corps, we've used a variety of sources and a variety of types of weapons systems to arm these organizations. For example, the typical rifle that is used is the Kalashnikov AK-47. The pistols that are typically used by the Iraqi Police Service are Glocks. So in terms of for the long term what will be the type of equipping and the training that the Iraqi security services will undergo and undertake, for the most part that's going to be a decision that is left to the sovereign nation of Iraq -- which tactics you use, which techniques you use, which equipment you use, and quite frankly the size and the character of the military forces that you have.

MR. SENOR: Yes, sir?

Q (Arabic not translated.)

MR. SENOR: I'm not going to comment on potential, possible recommendations that the United Nations may make until they make the recommendations.

Q (Arabic not translated.)

MR. SENOR: No. Regarding the subject of changing the date?

Q (Arabic not translated.)

MR. SENOR: The U.N. is in the process of just getting started here, and the culmination of that process presumably will be some sort of analysis or recommendations they will provide to us. The implications of that analysis and the implications of those recommendations we will comment on and react to once the analysis and recommendations are made -- not ahead of time -- simply because it would be pure speculation. So I don't have any information regarding what we would do in the event the U.N. may recommend something or may provide analysis on another matter.

As far as Ambassador Bremer's discussion with the U.N. are concerned, we have made clear that we are available to answer any of their questions, provide any briefings for them that they may want. We understand that they are going to be doing a very thorough and independent fact-finding and analytical mission. They'll be conducting an independent fact-finding and analytical mission throughout the country. Our piece of it may be one significant part, and may be an insignificant part. But it something that will be addressed at the U.N.'s behest, not ours. We are available to discuss with them how we see things, but of course it will be on their schedule.


Q Katani Nomus (ph), the Romanian Radio. General Kimmitt, I've noticed that the weekly figures you've provided us regarding the average numbers of daily engagements have increased over the past several weeks. Is this a trend? Can you comment a bit on that?

GEN. KIMMITT: Well, I don't know if we're seeing a trend yet. Certainly we expected a minor uptick in violence during the Eid period. But we've always said that as we get closer and closer to governance that we would expect to see those numbers uptick a bit. And I think that's bearing out as we've gone from roughly the 18 to 19 per week that we've seen over the last month or so, two months or so, to the 23, 24 we're seeing per week now.

MR. SENOR: Yes, sir?

Q (Inaudible) -- newspaper. I have two questions in Arabic. (Arabic not translated.)

MR. SENOR: On the political agreement, we are working with the Governing Council on the implementation of the November 15th agreement as signed and published. And it was signed and published with a June 30th deadline for handover of sovereignty. That is the process we are moving forward with right now. Any other implications of a possible recommendation from the U.N. we will address when the recommendation is made.

GEN. KIMMITT: And I apologize, would you ask that question again? I heard something about protection, I heard something about training, I heard something about Air Force captains. But I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to repeat it, if you would, please.

Q (Arabic not translated.)

GEN. KIMMITT: And you're specifically asking about the training of the air force, is that correct? Again, at this point we have a very, very small cadre of air force at this point in time. The main concentration of the training that has been going on is for Iraqi ground forces, the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and the Border Service. We are trying to train a small number of air force officers with the idea that it would form the basis for a long-term program to develop an air force, if that is a decision, a sovereign decision made by the people of Iraq.

MR. SENOR: Yes, sir?

Q Christopher Dickey with Newsweek magazine. I guess this would be for both of you. One of the most critical issues of sovereignty has got to be the relationship between Iraq and the American forces here. Under the November agreement, that question is supposed to be decided by the end of March. What is exactly supposed to be decided by the end of March? Are we talking about a status of forces agreement? Are we talking about immunity from prosection for American soldiers? Are we talking about basing agreements? And how is that going to be determined with the Governing Council, which is not in fact a sovereign government?

MR. SENOR: We -- that is correct, it is part of the November 15th agreement. We will address the role and status of U.S. forces in Iraq going forward. That is to be done by the end of March. It addresses - -it is to address a number of issues, certain ones that are high priority for us, for instance the legal protections for American servicemen and women in Iraq. And it will be done with the Iraqi Governing Council. They are the interim governing authority in this country with whom we must negotiate on this matter.

Someone who hasn't asked a question. Go ahead, sir.

Q (Arabic not translated.)

GEN. KIMMITT: This is a group that is a group that is just coming onto our screen. We've seen it for a couple of months now. It seems to be a large umbrella group that may be trying to bring together a number of other groups.

With regards to the attacks, of course they've taken claim for the suicide bombings, the twin suicide bombings up at Irbil. We also -- they are also claiming responsibility for the attack on a police station in Mosul January 31st. Other than that, they have claimed -- we are not aware of any other claims of any other attacks that have been carried out by this group. But, as you might imagine, based on the claim of responsibility for the Irbil bombings, we are going to look closely at this group, try to gather as much intelligence on this group as we can. Once we have sufficient intelligence we'll use that and in operations directed against that organization to kill or capture them, to prevent them from continuing terrorist attacks on coalition forces and terrorist attacks on the people of Iraq.

MR. SENOR: Thanks, everybody.




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