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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Even as the war with Iraq winds down, protesters in the United States and abroad renewed their campaign against the conflict Saturday. In Washington, 10 blocks from an antiwar demonstration, supporters of the war effort drew thousands to their own rally.
Protesters turned out in much smaller numbers than in the months leading up to the conflict, and their focus switched from keeping American troops out of Iraq to bringing them home.
In Washington, where tens of thousands marched during protests in January and March, a few thousand people rallied a few blocks from the White House for speeches and a march.
Near the antiwar protest site, a similar number, intermittently chanting "U-S-A U-S-A," held their own rally against the backdrop of the Capitol dome. As demonstrators waved American flags, people said nothing about U.S. troops' leaving any time soon.
"They should stay as long as required to help out the Iraqi people," said Rimma Dean, 42, an insurance analyst from Olney, Md. "The Iraqi people need our support."
Among speakers were former Republican Sen. Fred Thompson, now a television actor; actor Ron Silver; and former Reagan administration official Linda Chavez. Organizers read the names of the U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq.
"Our parents died for Vietnamese freedom. Our children are fighting for Iraqi freedom," said P.T. Dao, 53, editor of a Vietnamese newspaper in Falls Church, Va. He was among 200 ethnic Vietnamese on the National Mall.
Other countries had antiwar demonstrations Saturday. They, too, were not on the scale of past protests, such as the February march in London that drew up to 2 million people.
This time, police said 20,000 demonstrators marched in London. Many held placards demanding "No occupation of Iraq." They paused for two minutes of silence for the victims of war and tossed bunches of yellow daffodils at the gates of 10 Downing St., Prime Minister Tony Blair's official home. Separately, Iraqi exiles held their annual meeting to remember family members imprisoned under Saddam Hussein.
In Berlin, about 12,000 people gathered for a rally near the Brandenburg Gate, the city's best-known landmark. Around 50,000 protesters marched in Rome, worried that the Bush administration would go after other countries after Iraq. A Paris demonstration drew around 11,000, closely watched by police to prevent anti-Semitic acts.
Nearly 50,000 school children and other protesters marched in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Around 4,000 gathered in Seoul, South Korea, to demand the government rescind its decision to send noncombat troops to help U.S.-led forces in Iraq.
Demonstrators in Washington marched near the White House and Justice Department and past offices of companies that organizers said are profiting from the war and media organizations they said ignored the plight of Iraqi civilians.
For activists, the Iraq war has overshadowed the spring meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Even so, security was tight for the meetings, with police closing streets around the financial institutions. Organizers expect no more than 2,000 for a march Sunday.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)