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WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush named L. Paul Bremer, a former ambassador and head of the State Department's counterterrorism office, to be his special envoy to Iraq and oversee its transition to democratic rule.
Bremer will become the civilian administrator, heading the transition team that includes retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, currently the top-ranking U.S. civilian in Iraq. Bremer will oversee all political and reconstruction efforts.
Bush announced the appointment Tuesday during a White House meeting with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He said he was "sending one of our best citizens" and called Bremer "a man with enormous experience -- a can-do type of person."
The president said he has "full confidence" in Bremer, who was present when Bush made the announcement in the Oval Office.
Bremer, 61, was a former assistant to former Secretaries of State William P. Rogers and Henry Kissinger. He was ambassador-at-large for counterrorism from 1986 to 1989. He also served as U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands.
He later worked for a consulting firm headed by Kissinger and currently serves as chairman and chief executive of the Marsh Crisis Consulting company.
In his new assignment, he will be senior to Garner, a retired Army general, representing a military-to-civilian handoff.
Bremer will oversee the transition from rule by Saddam Hussein to a yet-to-be-determined interim Iraqi government. The Bush administration has said it expects this government to include a wide diversity of Iraqi groups.
Bush said Bremer "shares the same values as most Americans share, and that is our deep desire to have an orderly country in Iraq that is free and at peace, where the average citizen has a chance to achieve his or her dreams."
In a question-and-answer session with reporters, Bush reiterated his conviction that the United States would uncover weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Pentagon officials said Tuesday that experts are examining an Iraqi trailer suspected of being used as a mobile laboratory for chemical weapons.
"I'm not surprised if we begin to uncover the weapons program of Saddam Hussein because he had a weapons program," Bush said.
"I will leave the details ... to the experts."
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)