My Commitment on Two Key Posts in Iraq

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

In discussions with Iraqi leaders and in comments to the media, I always emphasize the need for nonsectarian appointments in the formation of an Iraqi government. Yet in his March 2 op-ed column, "Face Iraq's Past," Jim Hoagland asserted that my statements mask a demand for the appointment of a Sunni to the Interior Ministry. This interpretation of my comments does not reflect what I have stressed for months.

My statements are clear: The defense and interior ministers must be nonsectarian, broadly acceptable and have no ties to militias. A Sunni who is sectarian is as unacceptable as a Shiite who is sectarian. Perhaps most important, many Iraqi leaders -- Sunni, Shiite and Kurd -- have made this a key point in their negotiations for a new government.

Iraqis are working to overcome sectarian tensions heightened by terrorist attacks. We are investing billions to recruit, train and equip security forces in both the ministries of Defense and Interior. How the ministers of these departments are perceived by the Iraqis is critical to their success. The ministers must be unifiers, not polarizers. And the security ministries are only one piece of our commitment to building a unity government that fairly represents all Iraqis.

ZALMAY KHALILZAD

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq

Baghdad


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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