Saddam: Iraq has no plans to destroy Al-Samoud 2 missiles
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has told a US television network he has no plans to comply with a UN demand that he destroy his Al-Samoud 2 missiles.
Saddam denied that even his most advanced al-Samoud missiles violate UN restrictions, indicating he does not intend to destroy them or pledge to destroy them as demanded late last week by chief UN inspector Hans Blix.
"We do not have missiles that go beyond the proscribed range," the Iraqi leader said during the CBS television interview, his first with a US journalist in a decade.
Saddam also challenged US President George W. Bush to join him in a live radio and television satellite linkup to debate the need for war before the world.
"I am ready," said the Iraqi President, "to conduct a direct dialogue – a debate – with your President. I will say what I want and he will say what he wants."
"This will be an opportunity for him, if he's committed to war, this will be an opportunity to convince the world."
"This is something proposed in earnest" Saddam said, "out of my respect for the people of the United States and my respect for the people of Iraq and the people of the world. I call for this because war is not a joke. As leaders," said the Iraqi President to his US counterpart, "Why don't we use this opportunity?"
"It's definitely not a serious statement. There can be no debating the need for Saddam Hussein to disarm," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan earlier. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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