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U.S. Undersecretary of State Confident of Upcoming Iraqi Elections

Washington, D.C., Sept. 30, 2004 — John R. Bolton, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, told the Voice of America today that he is "confident" that there will be free and fair elections in Iraq in January 2005.

In an exclusive interview with VOA's Serbian Service, Bolton said that Iran's meddling in Iraq is "not helpful" to the elections, and he called all terrorist attempts to disrupt the upcoming vote "desperate."

Bolton also criticized Iran as "a supporter of terrorism around the world for decades." He said Iran's development of ballistic missile capabilities and pursuit of nuclear weapons was "particularly dangerous," and reiterated that the U.S. believes "Iran needs to be taken to the U.N. Security Council."

Asked about North Korea's nuclear development plans, Bolton said "there are a range of estimates on how many weapons North Korea already has," but he added that "no one knows for certain." He noted that the U.S. remains in favor of a "peaceful and diplomatic solution" by continuing six-party talks and is "committed to not seeing North Korea with nuclear weapons."

Bolton reaffirmed the importance of eastern and central European cooperation in the war on terror, saying that it remained a "very high priority" for the U.S. He called the region's efforts "especially sensitive to our needs" and "particularly important." He also noted that there is "a lot of Belgrade" and said working side by side against terrorism with Serbia and Montenegro would be a way that "our countries can grow closer together."

Asked how Serbia and Montenegro could assist in the war on terror and improve relations with the U.S., Bolton called on the country to bring its export control laws "up to standard" and to cooperate with international export control regimes, but he described the progress so far as "very gratifying."

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