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War correspondent addresses Iraq war

March 21, 2008

The war in Iraq has been going on for five years now. When will it end, and what will the ending mean? How will it end?

John F. Burns, a New York Times reporter who covered every aspect of the Iraqi war from a heavily fortified compound on the east bank of the Tigris River in Baghdad for more than four years, will address those questions in a free lecture, sponsored by the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, titled “The Battle for Baghdad: What the Outcome Will Mean for America, Iraq and the World," at 7 p.m., March 26 in Armstrong Hall’s Great Hall on ASUs Tempe campus.

Burns also will speak to students from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m., March 26 in Physical Education Building West (PEBW) room 148 on the Tempe campus.

A Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, Burns was Baghdad bureau chief for the New York Times from 2003 to 2007. He now is the London bureau chief.

Burns, who watched the bombing of Saddam Hussein's palaces from the roof of the Palestine Hotel on March 20, 2003, subsequently went into hiding in Baghdad after escaping arrest by Saddam Hussein's secret police.

Burns is the long-serving foreign correspondent in the New York Times’ history. He has reported from the major “hot spots” of the world, including South Africa during the last phases of apartheid, China during the Cultural Revolution of the 1970s, the Soviet Union during one of the harshest periods of the Cold War, and Afghanistan during the Soviet military withdrawal.

In July 1986, Burns was imprisoned by the Chinese government on charges of espionage. After an investigation, a trial was averted when the Chinese deported him to Hong Kong. The Chinese authorities subsequently apologized to The Times, stating the charges had been false and concocted by "bad elements" in the country's state security police.

Among his many awards, Burns has won two Pulitzer prizes, in 1993 for his coverage of the siege and destruction of the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, and again in 1997 for his coverage of the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan. He has been a nominee for the Pulitzer Prize on several other occasions, and is also a dual winner, in 1979 and 1997, of the George Polk award for foreign reporting, in Africa and Afghanistan.

The lecture is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict. Though the lecture is free, tickets are required. For more information or to reserve tickets, see or call (480) 965.7187.