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Location: Birmingham, MI, United States

Councilman John Akouri, former Washington, DC Press Secretary & Capitol Hill Advisor, is President & CEO of the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Iraqi Prime Minister Visits the United States

Akouri Greets Premier, Presents Token of US Welcome
(FARMINGTON HILLS, MI) – With a $100,000 bounty on his head from an extremist group, Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari arrived in Michigan amid heavy U.S. and Iraqi security. He spoke briefly at a private dinner to a select group of local Iraqi and Arab leaders gathered at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, and then at a Town Hall style meeting, addressed an eager audience of Southeast Michigan’s Iraqi-American population, who form one of the world's largest Iraqi expatriate communities and despised Saddam Hussein. Speaking to a jubilant crowd of nearly 1000 metro Detroiters who embraced their country’s first democratically elected Prime Minister, and at times shouted prayer and poetry in his praise, Iraq's top leader vowed to crack down on terrorists & protect the innocent.

At the dinner, Farmington Hills City Councilman presented the Prime Minister with an official City Ambassador Medal. “On behalf of the City of Farmington Hills, and our large number of Iraqi-American residents, I wish to welcome you to the United States and to Farmington Hills” Akouri told the Premier. “As Farmington Hills is recognized globally throughout our country and the world, it is indeed a distinct honor to recognize your achievements and present you with this small token of greeting as you visit our region. It is my hope that in addition to recent positive progress in Afghanistan, Lebanon and Libya, the people and the nation of Iraq are headed towards democracy, peace and stability. I wish you safe travels on your journey Mr. Prime Minister, for you and all of Iraq.” The Premier graciously thanked Councilman Akouri and expressed warm salutations to the many Iraqi expatriates residing in the city of Farmington Hills, MI.

Al-Jaafari, a medical doctor, arrived in Michigan just after a trip on Monday to the city of Tal Afar, Iraq near the Syrian border where Iraqi and U.S. troops launched a joint offensive over the weekend against insurgents. "What moves me is my desire to work for my country and for you," al-Jaafari told the attentive crowd at the Town Hall gathering. "We were cursed with Saddam, now we are cursed with the insurgents. Just as we were once upon a time imposed on by this tyrant, we are now imposed upon by this group of terrorists. Don't think the time between May 3 and now is enough to diminish 35 years of Saddam's rule. Don't think that anything is going to happen overnight. We need time,” said al-Jaafari, referring to the day he took office and adding that it was his top priority to combat terrorism. After his talk, al-Jaafari listened to concerns and comments and took some questions from audience members.

The next day, as the Prime Minister toured the southeast Michigan area, his motorcade briefly passed through the City of Farmington Hills. With traffic on both sides of the road at a halt and nearly twenty cars long and advanced by a helicopter overhead, and close to 100 State Police motorcyclists and a number of local and county law enforcement agencies assisting, al-Jaafari’s heavily fortified motorcade passed along Northwestern Highway waving to passers-by. Later this week he is expected to meet with hurricane evacuees and to then visit Washington D.C. and the United Nations in New York City.

JOHN AKOURI ONLINE NEWSROOM 'We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity. We will not tire, or rest, until the war on terror is won.' -- PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH Add to end of above"line without paranthesis when wanting to loop sound (( loop="-1">