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DeFazio returns from Iraq trip.

Byline: The Register-Guard

After five days in Iraq, U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio called on the president to work harder at seeking help from allies in the massive rebuilding effort.

DeFazio, D-Ore., joined five other members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in a trip that took them to Baghdad, Balad and Tikrit.

They were scheduled to inspect road, bridge and railroad construction; sewer and water treatment plants; a hydropower dam and other projects.

While there, DeFazio met with Paul Bremer, head of the civilian occupation authority in Iraq, and General Ricardo Sanchez, commander of U.S. forces there.

He also had the chance to speak with Oregon soldiers.

"Their morale is good," he said in a news release. "Most have been in country for 10 months and they're really looking forward to coming home."

DeFazio wasn't reachable by telephone for an interview, but released a statement about his visit.

Troops overall still lack body armor and are exposed to danger because few armored Humvees are available, he said.

"I talked to one Oregonian whose buddy lost his hand the previous day in an explosion. But he would have been dead if he had not been driving one of the few armored Humvees available to them," he said.

DeFazio also said more Iraqis need be trained to replace U.S. troops and do day-to-day policing.

"We're looking here at an absolutely massive nation-building project. Ambassador Bremer predicts they will create a million jobs in the next year, all with U.S. tax dollars," he said.

More of that money should come from other nations, he said, and called on President Bush to reach out more effectively.

"The Bush administration has to do better with diplomacy, particularly now since it has been shown that there were no weapons of massive destruction in Iraq, and this was a discretionary war," he said.

DeFazio returns to the United States today and, weather permitting, will be in Oregon on Thursday with plans to speak Friday in Florence.

- From Register-Guard reports

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DeFazio speaks: Noon Friday at the Florence City Club meeting at Ocean Dunes Golf Links, 3345 Munsel Lake Road.
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Title Annotation:General News; The congressman says Bush needs to solicit more international help
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jan 27, 2004
Words:358
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