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Stability plans include dividing Iraq into 3 parts

By Charles Aldinger and Nadim Ladki

Iraq is to be divided into three sectors patrolled by troops led by the United States, Britain and Poland under plans to impose postwar stability, a senior U.S. official said, as Iraqi preachers urged Washington to establish a government to restore order.

Ten nations offered troops for the stabilization force, which would be separate from the 135,000 combat troops still in Iraq after toppling the government of Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration official said.

President Bush has declared the war effectively over, but violence, looting and lawlessness persist in a country where a virtual power vacuum has replaced Saddam's iron-fisted rule and essential services such as water and electricity are still scarce.

Many Iraqis are happy at Saddam's removal but have made clear they want U.S. troops to leave and an end to the near anarchy that has swept parts of the country since the U.S. military victory.

"Where is the government?" said Sheikh Ahmad al-Issawi in a sermon at a Baghdad mosque. "Install a government as quickly as possible, even if it is an emergency government.

"Maintain security and protect public and private possessions from looters and get public services, water and electricity back to normal," he added.

As it grappled with postwar chaos, the U.S. military said it was holding two more of Saddam's top aides.

They were Abdul Tawab Mullah Hwaish, head of the military industrialization ministry, which oversaw the development of weapons of mass destruction in the 1980s, and Taha Mohieddin Ma'rouf, a vice president and member of the Revolutionary Command Council.

The states that have volunteered to take part in stabilization duties do not include France, Germany or Russia, which were not invited to a planning meeting of 16 nations in London that approved the plan Wednesday, said the U.S. official.

Those three countries opposed the U.S.-led war, infuriating Washington with their obstruction of its efforts to obtain United Nations backing for the campaign.

The exact size of the new force has not been determined, but the United States, Britain, Poland, Ukraine, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Bulgaria, the Neth-erlands and Albania have offered troops for the policing effort. The three sectors of Iraq have not yet been drawn up.

A U.S. division of up to 20,000 troops would patrol one of the sectors, while the other two would each have a division of multinational troops under Britain and Poland, which both contributed forces to the invasion campaign.

A senior British official made a case, however, for the U.S. military to step aside from running postwar Iraq.

Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's ambassador to the United Nations, said the Pentagon had done a terrific job in winning the war but it was time for the diplomats to manage the peace.

"If the Pentagon runs the peace, we're in trouble," he said during a panel discussion at Harvard University.

Speaking a day after Bush declared that U.S.-led forces had prevailed in the military phase of the war, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in London that insecurity remained rife.

"It would be a terrible mistake to think that Iraq is a fully secure, fully pacified environment. It is not; it is dangerous," he said after meeting British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the end of a victory tour to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rumsfeld's talks with Blair covered a push for faster reconstruction and humanitarian efforts in Iraq and Afghan-istan.

In Washington, a U.S. official said the Bush administration had chosen Paul Bremer, a former diplomat who headed the State Department's counterterrorism efforts, to be the civilian administrator guiding reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

The official said Bremer would supplant retired Gen. Jay Garner as the top U.S. civilian official in the country.

The European Union, meanwhile, said it had agreed in principle for the return of diplomats to Iraq.
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