Pentagon officials said on Friday the experts from outside the government would provide Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and US administrator in Iraq Paul Bremer with an informal assessment of the post-war situation in the country.

Their visit coincided with an increase in resistance attacks targeting US and British occupation troops.

The Pentagon said the mission aims at providing independent expertise and ideas on how to go about building a new government in Iraq.

"This team was not dispatched to go rescue Bremer because Bremer does not need rescuing. He is open to having assistance, and people are going to give him assistance if it is desired," Lawrence Di Rita, acting assistant secretary of defense for public affairs said.

 

He referred to the five experts as "a good group of smart people."

The five-member group is led by John Hamre, a former deputy defense secretary in president Bill Clinton's administration and now the president of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, the Pentagon spokesman said.

Frederick Barton and Bathsheba Crocker are also experts at the Centre.

        

The other two on the mission are Robert Orr of the Council on Foreign Relations, who served as a US official at the United Nations during the Clinton administration, and Johanna Mendelson Forman of the UN Foundation, a former USAID and World Bank official.

 

Investors scared

 

The instability in Iraq is proving problematic for potential private investment by American, British and other foreign companies.

   

Kroll Inc., a risk consulting company, issued a report to corporate clients this week saying the most likely scenarios for the rest of 2003 are either an Iraqi revolt against the occupying forces or a "wobbly landing" amid some instability but not outright revolt.

   

A Kroll official in London said the report judged two other scenarios were less likely: a "soft landing" with a stable Iraq or the utter fragmentation of the country.