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CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar (AP) -- The United States plans to bring Iraqi representatives to Baghdad on Friday for the second meeting on forming a postwar government, U.S. officials said Tuesday.
The first meeting took place April 15 in the ancient southern city of Ur, and ended with the Iraqis -- essentially hand-picked by the United States to attend -- issuing a 13-point communique about the shape of a future Iraq.
U.S. officials were still looking for a site for Friday's meeting. But they confirmed that the conference would be held in Baghdad and headed by retired U.S. Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, who is overseeing postwar reconstruction of Iraq.
"This is the second of what will be hopefully many more of such (meetings) all across Iraq," said Jim Wilkinson, spokesman for U.S. Central Command. "The fact that the meetings are even taking place represents success."
He noted that during the Ur meeting, one of the first votes that took place was to reconvene in 10 days, or Friday. The meeting is to discuss procedures for developing an interim Iraqi authority.
The Iraqi representatives in Ur also approved 12 other motions, including that Iraq must be organized as a democratic federal system chosen by Iraqis, not outsiders; that the Baath Party must be dissolved; and that there should be a "national dialogue" to bring all national political groups into the process of forming a new government.
The first meeting was attended by about 80 people, including Iraqi exiles from the Iraqi National Congress, tribal representatives from western Iraq, Shiites, Sunnis and representatives from the two main Kurdish groups -- the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdish Democratic Party.
However, Central Command has never released a complete list of who attended or who was invited, and the main anti-Saddam Shiite group, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, boycotted the meeting.
The Shiite group, as well as other Iraqis, have opposed U.S. plans to install Garner as a temporary leader before an Iraqi interim authority is planned.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)