June 28, 2004 – With no prior announcement, authority has been transferred to the Iraqi interim government two days ahead of schedule. Following a meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair today in Istanbul, Iraqi foreign minister Hoshiyar Zebari told reporters he believed opposition forces would be challenged "by bringing even the date of the handover forward."
Less than two hours later, coalition administrator Paul Bremer officially ceded authority to the interim government, in a private meeting. The Associated Press reports the handover was completed 10 minutes before President Bush's meeting with NATO leaders in Turkey, where he sought to negotiate supplemental NATO troops for service in Iraq. However, he failed to persuade France and Germany. The alliance did agree to expand operations in Afghanistan and provide training for Iraqi security forces.