A joint statement issued by US President Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair on 8 April said that Britain and America supported the formation of an Iraqi Interim Authority ‘as early as possible’. This will be a transitional administration, run by Iraqis, until a permanent government is established by the people of Iraq, the statement added. ‘The interim authority will be broad-based and fully-representative, with members from all Iraq’s ethnic groups, regions and diaspora,’ the statement said. ‘The interim authority will be established first and foremost by the Iraqi people with the help of the members of the coalition and working with the secretary general of the United Nations. As coalition forces advance, civilian Iraqi leaders will emerge who can be part of such an interim authority. The interim authority will progressively assume more of the functions of government. It will provide a means for Iraqis to participate in the economic and political reconstruction of their country from the outset.’

Whitehall sources say that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan plans to travel to Europe in the week starting 14 April for meetings with leaders of the EU.