WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld met Monday with Ahmad Chalabi, the former Iraqi exile tainted by the since-discredited claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
Chalabi is a now a deputy prime minister of Iraq and is considered a likely candidate to be the next prime minister.
Last year, U.S. forces raided Chalabi's Baghdad office after he was accused of giving U.S. intelligence information to Iran. He is still under investigation regarding those allegations.
In a 45-minute meeting in Rumsfeld's Pentagon office, the two discussed the security and political situation in Iraq, and Chalabi expressed gratitude for the work of U.S. troops, a Pentagon official said, speaking only on condition of anonymity.
Pentagon officials did not allow TV or photo coverage of Chalabi's arrival at the Pentagon, and there was no coverage of the talks.
Later Chalabi met with Vice President Dick Cheney, and he also had talks with Robert Zoellick, the deputy secretary of state. Last week he met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley, President Bush's national security adviser.
In the Rumsfeld meeting, Chalabi underlined the importance of continued Defense Department assistance in developing a professionalized Ministry of Defense in Baghdad, the official said. Chalabi also emphasized the importance of improving the intelligence-gathering capabilities of the U.S.-led military coalition to improve the Iraqi security forces' ability to disrupt and ultimately defeat the insurgents, the official said.
Chalabi also mentioned that the insurgents put a high priority on attacking the infrastructure that supports the oil and electricity systems in Iraq, the official said.