Saddam: Neighboring states can avert war; Regional leaders warn of war repercussions
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said on Sunday that only Iraq's neighboring countries could prevent the United States from launching a war against it, Iraqi state television reported.
"Inspection teams are present here and our cooperation with them is continuing, but if America wants to find a pretext for aggression, only the neighboring countries in the region can prevent it," Saddam told visiting Turkish State Minister of Trade Kursat Tuzmen.
"Through clarity, seriousness and brotherly dialogue, we can reach a better bilateral cooperation which would lead to a high degree of stability in the region," Saddam said in his meeting with Tuzmen.
Official Iraq News Agency INA said Tuzmen was carrying a letter from Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul, which "conveyed Turkey's stance towards Iraq and the unity of Iraqi people and explained Turkey's efforts in this respect."
Meanwhile, leaders of countries which maintain close ties with the U.S. warned Sunday that a new war would inflame the volatile Middle East. They urged Iraq to cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors to avoid conflict.
"If war breaks out, God forbid, it will be a big problem," Jordan's King Abdullah II told the official Jordanian news agency Petra. "Nobody can predict the dimension of the tragedy it will have whether on the Iraqi people or the whole region."
Abdullah said an Iraqi war could also exacerbate the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, which he ranked as a greater problem for the region. "It's possible that [the Palestinian situation] would become further complicated if war erupts," Abdullah said.
In the Iranian capital Tehran, Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul said all countries in the region should work to avert a new war. "Otherwise, all the Middle East and Arab states will suffer heavy losses," he said.
"Both Iran and Turkey believe that Iraq must implement all U.N. Security Council resolutions unconditionally in order not to give any pretext for war," added Gul.
In Egypt, President Mubarak told reporters that attacking Iraq "will have horrible repercussions, the extent of which nobody knows." He believed the chance of war was "50-50."
Mubarak chastised Saddam for his apology letter sent to Kuwait last month which he used to heap "curses on the whole world. "And he says, 'The weapons inspectors talk to us improperly,"' Mubarak said of Saddam before advising him: "Sir, tolerate it to avoid war." (Albawaba.com)
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