Bush: No timetable to hand over Saddam to Iraqis
US President Bush said Tuesday the United States will turn over former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to the new Iraqi interim government but declined to set a timetable.
"I want to make sure that when sovereignty is transferred, Saddam Hussein stays in jail," Bush told reporters.
He said the United States was working with the new Iraqi government on the terms of handing over Saddam and making sure there is "appropriate security." Neither the United States nor the new Iraq (news - web sites) government wants there "to be lax security and for Saddam Hussein to not stand trial," Bush stated.
Bush comments came after the interim Iraqi prime minister said Monday Washington will hand over Saddam and all other detainees to Iraq's new government over the next two weeks as sovereignty is restored.
But Pentagon officials were quoted by the CNN as saying "they are not aware of any immediate plans calling for the United States to hand over Saddam or any detainees."
U.S. officials have said they plan to continue to hold up to 5,000 prisoners deemed a threat to the occupation even after the restoration of Iraqi sovereignty at the end of this month. They say as many as 1,400 detainees will either be released or transferred to Iraqi authorities.
However, in an interview with Al-Jazeera television, Iraq's Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said Iraqi officials expect to take possession of Saddam and all other detainees with the transfer of power.
"All the detainees will be transferred to the Iraqi authorities and the transporting operation will be done within the two coming weeks," Allawi said. "Saddam and the others will be delivered to the Iraqis."
He said the former Iraqi president would stand trial "as soon as possible" but gave no specific timeframe. The detainees and "Saddam as well will be handed to the Iraqi government, and you can consider this as an official confirmation," he added. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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