New Iraqi ambassador in Canberra

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November 25, 2004 By Alison Caldwell
Mr Al Shibli represented his country in Iraq and Washington for 12 years, under Saddam Hussein's regime, before pursuing an academic career in the US. He returned to Iraq in April last year to take up senior roles with the Iraqi Governing Council and he has been speaking to Alison Caldwell. GHANIM AL SHIBLI: As you know, our security situation is pretty fragile. From now to January, we're trying to clear house – we have a few pockets left. I'm hoping that it will be cleared by that time. But we have a full confidence that the elections will take place. ALISON CALDWELL: Could you see a form of an election taking place whereby voting is held off in some areas, say Fallujah or Mosul? Is that possible? GHANIM AL SHIBLI: Well, that's on the cards, but there is the determination that by January 30th, 2005, all Iraq will be cleared up from those (inaudible) pockets. ALISON CALDWELL: But it is possible? GHANIM AL SHIBLI: Well, it's been said that it might take place, but I'm not sure about that. ALISON CALDWELL: How long do you expect Australia's military commitment to be in Iraq? GHANIM AL SHIBLI: This is up to the Australian Government and they've been mostly appreciated by the Iraqi people for helping the Iraqi people. But I would think that when things get better as far as security, and the Iraqi government is able to build its own security and armed forces, that the multinational forces will be withdrawn upon the request of the Iraqi Government. ALISON CALDWELL: What would you say to Australian businessmen and women, journalists, who are planning to go to Iraq right now? GHANIM AL SHIBLI: I'd say, you're welcome. Iraq needs investment badly. Iraq needs people to come in and help the Iraqi people, we need joint ventures, we need capital coming in. Iraq will be a tremendously good market for Australians and I'll encourage them enthusiastically. ALISON CALDWELL: Our government is advising Australians not to go to Iraq because it's too dangerous. Would you say that that's unnecessary? GHANIM AL SHIBLI: Well, I would say this is up… the evaluation of the situation in Iraq, from the Australian perspective, is up to the Australian Government. But you know, things are improving, I would say, after the Fallujah liberation, and you know, people are coming. I would say it's up to the Australian Government to decide on this. ELEANOR HALL: The new Iraqi ambassador to Australia Ghanim Al Shibli, speaking to Alison Caldwell.

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