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Top Kurdish Leader Missed D.C. Trip

August 15, 2002

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ A top Iraqi Kurd official did not join colleagues from the Iraqi opposition for high-level meetings here last week because of logistical problems, the White House said Thursday.

Spokeswoman Claire Buchan said U.S. officials tried to make travel arrangements for Kurdistan Democratic Party head Massoud Barzani to come to Washington but the effort was unsuccessful.

``He was invited to the meeting. He wanted to come,″ Buchan said.

The KDP was represented by its second ranking official, Hoshyar Zabari, who joined dissident leaders from five other Iraqi groups for talks with Vice President Dick Cheney and State Department officials.

They also had brief encounters with Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

The Iraqi delegation met under the umbrella of the Iraqi National Congress, a coalition of groups opposed to President Saddam Hussein.

Francis Brooke, a Washington adviser to the INC, said Barzani was willing to fly here from his semi-autonomous Kurdish stronghold in northern Iraq but did not want to use a third country to make the trip.

Brooke said Barzani would have been willing to travel aboard a U.S. government plane but that arrangements could not be worked out.

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