U.S. officials say Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage will head to Turkey, Jordan and Syria this week for talks on helping Iraq prepare for its January 30th election. The officials say Mr. Armitage will appeal to officials in the three Sunni Muslim majority countries to encourage Iraqi Sunnis to vote.
U.S. officials are concerned that Iraq's minority Sunnis will boycott the election and be under-represented in the country's new government. In Syria, Mr. Armitage is expected to speak to officials in Damascus about what Washington says is Syria's harboring of former Iraqi regime elements.
Also on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Iraqis want a freely elected government and urged Iraqis to vote, despite threats of violence.