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Iraqi premier stresses freedom of press; update

BBC Monitoring

Baghdad Al-Iraqiyah Television in Arabic is observed between 1500 and 1700 gmt on 5 February to carry reports on the following political and security-related developments:

Within its 1500 gmt newscast, the channel carries the following reports:

- "An expanded conference on the implementation of development and reconstruction projects in the governorates located north of Baghdad was held in Salah-al-Din Governorate. The governors of Salah-al-Din, Kirkuk, Diyala, and Mosul attended the conference in addition to the governors of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region. The conferees discussed the most prominent impediments facing the reconstruction process in these governorates."

- "The security forces in the Tall Afar District in the Ninawa Governorate found a depot that contains large quantities of explosives and weapons after receiving information from citizens in the Al-Falahat neighbourhood noting that a depot exists in the area."

Within its 1700 gmt! newscast, the channel carries the following reports:

- "Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki received Muhammad Jalid, director general of UNESCO in Iraq, at his office in Baghdad today. The prime minister stressed that reconstructing Samarra constitutes a blow against those who wanted to make out of the [blasts] an open door for sectarianism and against those who plotted to drag the country into a civil war."

- "Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki stressed that the freedom of the press in new Iraq is one of the most important democratic gains that our people achieved after the toppling of the tyrant regime. He added that protecting journalists and media institutions, and strengthening the role of the press, which is considered the fourth estate, top our priorities. In a statement issued by the Prime Ministry's Media Office, the prime minister directed the Ministries of Defence and Interior and the government institutions to facilitate the mission of journalists and satell! ite channels' correspondents and protect them so they can carry out th eir duties. The prime minister stressed the need to take deterring measures against those involved in harming journalists and media figures and in violating their rights and freedom. The statement said that those who violate the prime minister's directives should be penalized. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki reiterated the government's eagerness to ensure the freedom of media and press in Iraq. This came during the protocol ceremony for hoisting the new Iraqi flag."

At 1710 gmt Al-Iraqiyah's anchorman conducts a telephone interview with Iraqi Government Spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh.

Asked about the "significance" of hoisting the new Iraqi flag on all government institutions, Al-Dabbagh says: "the new Iraqi flag is symbolic to the country. It is one of the important national symbols. This flag was approved by members of the Council of Representatives. Hoisting the Iraqi flag today marks the beginning for using it. The Iraqis should agree on putting an end to this confli! ct as there were more than one flag hoisted on governmental buildings. This does not represent a healthy phenomenon. It was necessary to take such a step to put an end to this abnormal situation."

Asked about the most important issues discussed during the Council of Minister's session, Al-Dabbagh says: "We made a decision to exempt all investors from the Iraq's Reconstruction Tax and the stamps fees, so as to encourage investors who are working in projects which fall under the 2008 investment budget or the plan to develop regions and governorates." He adds that "foreign security companies and those who have contracts with such companies will be subjected to the Iraqi laws." He goes on to say that the cabinet decided to open an Iraqi commercial section in Bucharest.

- "Members of the Council of Representatives held a new session today in Baghdad to discuss issues listed on their agenda so as to vote on them and take necessary decisions pertaining to them. The sp! eakership of the council decided to postpone voting on the draft law o n governorates' councils."

- "Major General Qasim Ata, spokesman for the Law Enforcement Plan, stressed the Iraqi forces' determination to reinforce security and stability in various parts of Baghdad. This came during a field visit to the Al-Saydiyah area in Baghdad. The citizens expressed their satisfaction with the efforts exerted to facilitate the return of the displaced and to improve services."

- "Ahmad Chalabi, head of the Law Enforcement Plan's Services Committee, stressed the need to implement the government's decisions pertaining to the services ministries, especially those that are related to the sewage and electricity projects. While chairing a meeting for the Services' Committee, Chalabi discussed the outcomes of his field visit to a number of areas in Baghdad and set the priorities for the work of service departments in these areas."

- "The Iraqi Interior Ministry said that they dismantled a cell that belongs to the terrorist Al-Qa'idah Orga! nization and which is run by a Saudi criminal in a rural area between the Babil and Wasit Governorates, south of Baghdad. Major General Abd-al-Karim Khalaf, director of the Interior Ministry's National Command, stressed that the security forces in the Babil Governorate dismantled this terrorist cell run by the so-called terrorist Abu-Sarah during a landing carried out by the Scorpion Forces in the Al-Khasranah area located between the Babil and Wasit governorates."

- "Brigadier General Sarhat Qadir, the police chief of districts at Kirkuk Police Command, said that an Iraqi police force arrested a key leader in the terrorist Al-Qa'idah Organization in Kirkuk. Brigadier General Qadir added that the security forces carried out a raid and search operation in the Al-Riyad area in southern Kirkuk that resulted in the arrest of terrorist Qays Isma'il, who is wanted by the security forces in the area."

Source: Al-Iraqiyah TV, Baghdad, in Arabic 1500 g! mt 5 Feb 08



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