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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 September, 2004, 22:39 GMT 23:39 UK
Iraq 'on track for January poll'
Iyad Allawi
Allawi is visiting both Britain and the US
Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has said elections will take place in January as scheduled, despite continuing violence in the country.

Speaking after talks in London with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr Allawi called on the UN to do its utmost to make the election a success.

More than 300 people have been killed in the past week in Iraq.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has warned that credible elections cannot take place if the violence continues.

"We definitely are going to stick to the timetable of elections in January next year," Mr Allawi told reporters on Sunday.

"We are succeeding in Iraq. We are succeeding against the forces of evil."

I call upon the United Nations to help us in providing whatever it takes in making the elections a success
Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi

Mr Blair praised Mr Allawi's courage and said they wanted to see a free Iraq committed to stability, democracy, human rights and equality.

"The people who are trying to stop that Iraq coming about, who are engaged in killing, maiming and acts of terrorism, are people who are opposed... to every single one of the values that we in countries like this hold dear."

Hostage situation

It has been a week of intense violence in Iraq, with 23 killed in a bomb in Kirkuk on Saturday and 47 killed in a Baghdad blast earlier in the week.

Mr Allawi is visiting the UK as part of a tour which will also take him to New York and Washington.

The talks come as UK and US officials are working to secure the release of Briton Kenneth Bigley and Americans Jack Hensley and Eugene Armstrong, who were seized on Thursday from a house in Baghdad's Mansour neighbourhood.

They are being held by captors reportedly allied to al-Qaeda militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Mr Blair said he and Mr Allawi had discussed Mr Bigley's situation.

"Our governments are working closely on it," he said.

"I don't think there's anything more I can or should say at this stage."

The BBC's Juliet Dunlop
"In London the mood was positive"


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