Secretary of State Colin Powell says the United States plans to install a temporary American military administrator in Baghdad if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is removed from power.
In an interview broadcast today (Friday) with Arabic-language Al-Arabiya television, Secretary Powell said the military commander's role would be to secure the country after military action, protect the Iraqi people and oversee the distribution of humanitarian aid. But he said power would be transferred to a new Iraqi civilian leadership as soon as possible.
Mr. Powell dismissed critics who say the United States wants to take over Iraq, saying America has not taken over Kuwait or Afghanistan after military action in those countries.
On Thursday, U-S Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said American forces are ready to take action against Iraq, if President Bush orders an attack. Mr. Rumsfeld said U-S military forces now available are "ample," and that a number of countries have been sending troops and equipment to the Persian Gulf region.
In Baghdad Friday, Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said in an interview that Iraq favors dialogue with the United States. In the interview broadcast on Al-Shabab television -- owned by Saddam Hussein's son Odai -- Mr. Ramadan said talks would be conditional on the US abandoning its plans for a military strike on Iraq and ceasing interference in Iraqi internal affairs.
Meanwhile, Iraq announced that a team of South African experts will arrive Sunday for a week-long visit to help Baghdad with disarmament issues. South Africa is one of only a few countries to have voluntarily dismantled its weapons of mass destruction.