The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Local News

May 13, 2006

Rep. Pence optimistic about Iraq’s future despite media reports

District 6 Congressman Mike Pence, R-Ind., briefed supporters and critics on Saturday at Anderson City Hall regarding his fourth trip to Iraq, with a congressional delegation, last Sunday.

During a daylong visit in Mosul and Baghdad, Pence met Hoosiers for first-hand accounts different than everyday media reporting, he said.

“Mosul was a serious problem for about a year in 2004 to early 2005 following the defeat of Saddam’s forces. Now Mosul is essentially secured,” Pence said. “There is very little insurgent violence.”

The congressman said Mosul, a population of 2 million Kurds, Sunnis, Shiites and the historic site of Ninevah, looked similar to Indianapolis with its infrastructure.

Pence said despite the media’s take, which often highlights bombings and killings, he saw more Iraqis stepping up than any other trip — police, military and civilian leadership.

“I believe on this trip I saw more commitment from the civilian leadership in Iraq,” Pence said about his talks with Major General Al Hamdani, a police chief; vice governor Kashmala, the second ranking official in the Province of Ninevah and new Iraqi prime minister, Jawad Al-Maliki.

“This man might well be the right man at the right time,” the congressman said about Al-Maliki, a Shiite.

“When he talked profound gratitude about American soldiers, that was the only time I felt any warmth from him,” said Pence.

“Baghdad is still, obviously, suffering under the weight of terrorist violence,” Pence explained. “Baghdad had more of a look of a war zone 2 1/2 years ago — not a lot of traffic, not a lot of people on the street.”

Pence said being in the Iraq’s capital for about eight hours this time around showed traffic jams in busy thoroughfares and school yards filled with children in uniforms at recess.

“I think we’re pretty close to turning the corner,” he said. “That was my impression,” he said later. “But, quite frankly, there are no guarantees.”

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