Frist visits Iraqi PM   

By Abby Morris
star staff
amorris@starhq.com

  Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee recently traveled to the Middle East where he met with soldiers and the newly named Iraqi Prime Minister.
  On June 3, Frist flew to Camp Wolverine in Kuwait where he met with members of the coalition forces stationed there. "I had the opportunity to meet with a number of soldiers from Tennessee," Frist said on Tuesday.
  Frist said that "morale is good" among the soldiers stationed in Kuwait despite the terrorist activity going on in the region. "There is a lot of increased terrorist activity since April in Iraq," he said. "The terrorists are not just against the coalition forces but against stability of any kind in Iraq."
  After meeting with soldiers, Frist flew by helicopter into Baghdad on June 4. There, he met with Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who was recently appointed to the position to help establish an Iraqi government.
  As part of that government, 32 ministries which will report to the Prime Minister have been formed. Of those, six of them will be headed by women, according to Frist.
  Frist said Allawi is a neurologist who was trained in London and that he has optimistic hopes for the future of Iraq. "He is direct. He is obviously courageous; he has physically been hurt by the Saddam loyalists. He is a doctor so he is obviously intelligent," said Frist, also a physician, as he laughed. "He has the same vision for Iraq that the Bush Administration does."
  Frist said he feels that, right now, coalition forces must keep a presence in Iraq while the new government is being formed. "For Iraq to be healthy and for Iraq to be stable, it is going to require the presence of coalition forces," he said. "There are several groups of terrorists, but the ones that are most concerning are the remaining Saddam loyalists who are living in the past.
  "The terrorists are working to derail the elections but they are not going to succeed. Most of the Iraqi people do not support these groups."
  According to Frist, since the end of the war, more than 2,500 schools have been reconstructed, repaired or reopened and more than 32,000 teachers have been trained. Medical care in the country has also improved, he said, with a majority of the children in Iraq having received vaccinations.