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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Rumsfeld to Visit Iraq

Aired September 4, 2003 - 19:07   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is in Baghdad tonight. This marks his second visit to the region in four months.
Earlier today Rumsfeld said that its time to pull more U.S. soldiers out of Iraq, once formal Iraqi troops are trained for security.

Our Ben Wedeman has more about what the defense secretary is seeing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A march in the streets of Baghdad. Shiites mourning a leader killed in a car bombing in the holy city of Najaf last week. His death and the tensions it sparked just the latest in a long list of woes that has plagued the U.S.-led coalition as it tries to rebuild this battered country.

Iraqis have a lot on their minds these days: rising ethnic and sectarian tensions, rampant crime, terrorism, economic disorder. For an unexpected visitor, an awful lot to contemplate.

(on camera) Secretary Rumsfeld comes to a country that has been shaken by four massive car bombings and the assassination of a senior Shiite cleric. All the while attacks against U.S. forces show no sign of stopping.

(voice-over) It all looks much more placid from the air. Before touching down, Secretary Rumsfeld took a turn over the city.

The view from below is a bit different, security still a major headache for most Baghdadis.

"The Americans haven't given us what we wanted," says this Shiite activist. "They promised us security. Where is it?"

Rumsfeld's prescription, more Iraqi responsibility for security on the ground, including more Iraqi police, border guards and a reconstituted Iraqi army.

Slowly, that force is emerging. To the sound of bagpipes, a group of Iraqi policemen marks completion of a three-week training program aimed at raising their awareness about human rights.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: There are important steps yet ahead, and they really are pretty much in the hands of the Iraqi people.

WEDEMAN: More than 50,000 Iraqis are already involved in security duties. But many more will be needed to stabilize the country.

North of Baghdad, in Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, U.S. troops are still shooting it out with the stubborn resistance. A long firefight followed a mortar attack on an American base there.

U.S. troops later launched raids inside the city, arresting four men suspected of making homemade bombs. A graphic reminder, if one were needed, of the kind of problems Mr. Rumsfeld will have to grapple with.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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