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European Union leaders gave Iraq assurances of "strong support" in a draft statement today and said they would offer Iraq's interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi the prospect of aid and a special trade deal.

Allawi, making a trip to Europe that included his first visit to NATO, was to meet for lunch today with European leaders gathered in Brussels for a two-day summit.

Ben Bot, the Dutch foreign minister whose country currently holds the EU presidency, said EU leaders would offer aid and a trade deal.

In the draft statement, EU leaders said they "will continue to support the brave and and difficult course the people of Iraq are steering toward the restoration of security, democracy and the rule of law."

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