*EPF204 04/01/2003
Goal of U.S. Aid Is to Help Iraqi People Resume Control of Iraq
(Will move as quickly and efficiently as possible, State Dept. says) (530)

By Jane Morse
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The goal of coalition forces is to return control of Iraq to the Iraqi people as quickly as possible, says State Department Deputy Spokesman Philip Reeker.

"We are working through our coalition to liberate Iraq from Saddam Hussein's regime, to give Iraq and its resources back to the people of Iraq so they can live in more peace and confidence and prosperity for a better future for themselves and for their children. That's why we're mounting an enormous humanitarian campaign to make sure that we provide for the needs of the Iraqi people," Reeker told reporters at the State Department's daily press briefing April 1.

The United States and its coalition partners are working to deliver to the Iraqi people "as much humanitarian aid as necessary as quickly and efficiently as possible," Reeker said.

"There's a massive humanitarian as well as reconstruction operation already beginning," he said. "It's going to be, and already is, a very massive effort designed to provide for the Iraqi people, to live up to the responsibilities to do what we said we were going to do for them," Reeker said.

"To date the U.S. government is providing a total of about $206 million dollars in humanitarian relief, including $124 million for international agencies -- $60 million for the World Food Program is included in that; 130,000 tons of food have already been put into that pipeline," he said. "A variety of other nongovernmental organizations are involved in that."

"The United States is also making available some 610,000 metric tons of food worth over $300 million dollars, much of that already prepositioned in the region," he added.

The Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, located in the U.S. Department of Defense, is coordinating the relief efforts of all relevant U.S. government agencies, Reeker explained, and will establish links with the United Nations and nongovernmental organizations.

"I think (the Iraqi) people will begin to see, as they are liberated ... and realize they no longer have to fear the tyranny of Saddam and his forces, that they can accept the help of the United States and the outside world," the deputy spokesman said.

The transition period will involve work by the military, civilian affairs groups and nongovernmental agencies, he said. But the end result will be "a country that has a government representing all the people of Iraq," he said.

Regarding U.S. cooperation with coalition members, Reeker noted that Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer met with Secretary of State Colin Powell March 31 at the secretary's residence to "discuss plans for reconstruction following the conflict."

"Australia has been a tremendous participant and supporter of the coalition and our efforts to liberate Iraq, the Iraqi people, from the regime of Saddam Hussein and disarm that country of weapons of mass destruction," the deputy spokesman said.

Once Downer completes his talks with top U.S. officials in Washington, he will visit the United Nations for talks with officials there, Reeker said.

(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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