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White House, Bremer meet on Iraqi council

L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, leaves the White House after a meeting Wednesday.
L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, leaves the White House after a meeting Wednesday.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- After finishing hastily arranged talks with the Bush administration in Washington, L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, will return to Baghdad to help jump-start progress toward Iraqi sovereignty.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday outside the White House, Bremer said he will tell the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council that President Bush "remains steadfast" in his determination to defeat terror and give Iraqis authority.

Senior U.S. officials in Washington have been impatient with the Governing Council's lack of progress. The council faces a December 15 U.N. deadline to come up with a timetable for writing a constitution and holding elections.

The American officials would like to move ahead with the transfer of power from the U.S.-led coalition to the Iraqis in hopes of improving Iraq's volatile situation.

"I think we all know that we are in a very intense period here as we come up on the December 15 deadline from the U.N. Security Council," Bremer said.

"... There's a lot going on, and we need to pull this all together and integrate it into a plan going forward."

Bremer was swiftly summoned to Washington this week as guerrillas in Iraq intensified their attacks against coalition targets and the CIA released a report saying the security situation is getting worse. He discussed security and the political transition with Bush and other top officials.

Bremer said the Governing Council faces "a difficult situation at this time" and it isn't fair to say the council is failing, as some critics contend.

"Over the past weeks, I have had very good and intense discussions with the Governing Council and with members of the Governing Council and other Iraqis as we move toward this deadline," he said.

"I've had good conversations here in the last couple of days. ... And I will now go back to Iraq to continue those conversations with the members of the Governing Council and the Iraqi government."

He declined to discuss his conversations with the president and his advisers on how to speed up the return of sovereignty to the Iraqis.

"The questions before us really relate to how best the Governing Council -- which is responsible to make these decisions -- how best the Governing Council can do that."

He was asked if the Bush administration has changed its stance on whether there can be an interim government before a constitution is written.

"There are lots of discussions being held in Baghdad among members of the Governing Council, a lot of discussions here and there," he said. "Let's wait and see."


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