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Last Updated: Monday, 20 September, 2004, 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK
Straw and Allawi hold Iraq talks
Jack Straw
Mr Straw is holding talks with Mr Allawi
UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has held talks on security in Iraq with the country's interim prime minister.

The meeting came after Iyad Allawi told GMTV foreign fighters were flooding into Iraq, which had become the "front line" in fighting terror.

"If Iraq is broken, London will be a target, Washington will be a target, Paris will be a target," he said.

On Sunday Mr Allawi met UK Premier Tony Blair who said Iraq had become the "crucible of global terrorism".

"We definitely are going to stick to the timetable of elections in January next year," Mr Allawi said.

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

Disagreements

But Conservative defence spokesman Nicholas Soames said: "I don't think the outlook looks very rosy for the elections, although the timeline must be stuck to because we must not underestimate the Iraqi people's real desire to have a vote and to try to get on with their own government."

During an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme Mr Soames criticised post-conflict planning by the UK and US branding them "chaotic".

The UK prime minister said: "Now is not the time for the international community to divide or disagree but to come together.

"Whatever the disagreements about the first conflict in Iraq to remove Saddam, in this conflict now taking place in Iraq, this is the crucible in which the future of this global terrorism will be determined.

"And either it will succeed and this terrorism will grow, or we will succeed, the Iraqi people will succeed, and this global terrorism will be delivered a huge defeat."

The Iraqi people's "struggle... is actually our struggle too, which is why we will see it through until it finishes - not in the victory of America, Britain or the West but the victory of the Iraqi people", Mr Blair added.

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

We are trying our best working on the issue of hostages, and hopefully we will achieve some good results
Iraq's interim prime minister Iyad Allawi

"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 not just to the new Iraq that can take shape, but are opposed to every single one of the values that we in countries like this hold dear.

"The terrorists who are conducting this killing in Iraq, they know what is at stake. And we should know what is at stake as well."

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.

Working closely

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."

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.

Sunday was the first opportunity the UK prime minister has had to meet Mr Allawi since he was appointed in May.





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