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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 April, 2003, 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK
Baghdad talks chart way ahead
Retired General Jay Garner
Talking point for Jay Garner - the future of Iraq
Iraq's government ministries could reopen by the end of next week, according to Jay Garner, the retired US general charged with the country's reconstruction.

Mr Garner urged public sector workers to return to work as soon as possible, promising them an emergency payment after one week and a monthly salary thereafter.

He was speaking after talks in Baghdad with about 60 selected Iraqi technocrats and academics who the Americans believe have shown leadership qualities.

The blood in your veins comes from the birth of civilisation
Jay Garner
"I think you'll begin to see the governmental process start next week. It will have Iraqi faces on it. It will be governed by the Iraqis," said Mr Garner, head of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance.

Figures were also given for the amount of oil being pumped from Iraqi oilfields for domestic use - 70,000 barrels a day in the south of the country.

The talks in Baghdad come in the wake of more progress by the US in rounding up Iraqi officials on the "most wanted" list.

Mr Garner said the role of the US was only to provide stability and allow Iraqis to be able to run their own country again.

"The blood in your veins comes from the birth of civilisation," he said.

In other developments:

  • The UN Security Council votes unanimously to extend oil-for-food programme until 3 June

  • Another three Iraqis on the "most wanted" list are captured, including former chief of military intelligence General Zuhayr Talib Abd al-Sattar al-Naqib, and the former head of air defence forces, Muzahim Sa'b Hassan al-Tikriti

  • The UN warns that war damage to sanitation and electricity systems, coupled with worsening pollution, has aggravated Iraq's environmental crisis and posed a threat to health

  • UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw dismisses suggestions that coalition forces would "plant" evidence to justify the war in Iraq

  • Iran denies US suggestions that it is interfering in post-war Iraq

  • British ground forces in Iraq will be reduced from three brigades to one soon, military sources say

10. Muzahim Sa'b Hassan al-Tikriti
18. Muhammad Hazmaq al-Zubaidi
21. Zuhayr Talib Abd al-Sattar al-Naqib
24. Samir al-Aziz al-Najem
40. Jamal Mustafa Abdallah Sultan al-Tikriti
45. Hikmat al-Azzawi
48. Muhammad Mahdi al-Salih
51. Watban Ibrahim al-Tikriti
52. Barzan Ibrahim Hasan al-Tikriti
54. Humam Abd al-Khaliq Abd al-Ghafur
55. Amir Hamudi Hasan al-Sadi

Many believe that full disarmament must take place before stability and any kind of democracy can take hold in Iraq.

The BBC's Claire Marshall, in Baghdad, says there is still great concern over security in the city, where some estimate that eight million weapons are on the streets.

Names of those attending the Baghdad conference have not been released.

It follows several anti-American demonstrations in the city by members of Iraq's Shia majority, who have demanded that US-led troops get out of the country.

The deputy head of the coalition team in Baghdad, British General Tim Cross, said the protests would not affect the current talks.

"We have got to allow a period of time where people who have not been able to say anything publicly are allowed to get on the street and vent a bit of fury," he said.

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