Condoleezza Rice said on Sunday that President Bush would not attend the handover ceremony in Iraq this week, suggesting his attendance would overshadow a symbolic moment the Iraqis should cherish as their own: "This is a moment for the Iraqis," Rice said.
Here is how the New York Times describes the Iraqis' big moment as it transpired earlier today in Baghdad:
"In a tightly guarded room behind high walls, L. Paul Bremer III, the top United States administrator, presented a formal letter recognizing Iraq's sovereignty to Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi."
"Just 30 or so people were present for what Dr. Allawi described as the 'historic' handover. A few hours later, Mr. Bremer flew off on a military plane, leaving behind a country stunned by the sudden transfer of authority."
The Washington Post has more on the Iraqis' big moment.
"On the day U.S. occupation authorities restored formal sovereignty to Iraq in a secretive ceremony, the only sure thing in the future of Saad Sarraf and his family, it seemed, was that the electricity would go out again on schedule at 5 p.m."
"For Sarraf, his wife and their three children -- and for countless other Iraqis -- the stealthy transfer of documents changing the legal status of their government was another day in the struggle to stay alive. That goal has become the simplest expression of their hopes for the future as the U.S. occupation over the last 14 months turned from high expectations to disappointment and uncertainty."