Saddam Opposes U.S. Attack on Iran: Schroeder Says Bush Told Him There Is No Intention to Strike Iraq
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said he was "opposed" to any strike against neighboring Iran as part of Washington's "war on terror".
"We are opposed to any (US) aggression against Iran," he told the weekly cabinet meeting, the official INA agency reported. "Iran is our neighbor, and if it is the target of a strike or any attack, we will also be affected."
In his January 29 State of the Union address, US President George W. Bush named Iran and Iraq as two of three nations, together with North Korea, forming an "axis of evil", hinting they might be the next target of Washington's anti-terror war.
The Iraqi president charged that these statements "reflected the US administration's point of view which perceives all Muslims as an 'axis of evil', starting with Arabs."
Ties between Iraq and Iran have warmed in recent months, although no treaty was signed after their bloody 1980-1988 war. The conflict ended with a UN-brokered ceasefire. About two weeks ago the Iraqi foreign minister, Naji Sabri, visited Tehran and met with the Iranian leadership.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said that U.S. President George W. Bush has told him that the United States has no intent of attacking Iraq, according to AP.
In remarks published on Monday by a German newspaper, Schroeder did not specify when Bush gave him the assurance.
However, he seemed to refer to a meeting he held with President Bush at the White House on January 31.
Schroeder was replying to a question asked whether his declared solidarity with the United States since the September 11 terror attacks would expand to actions against Iran, Iraq and North Korea.
"We all know the language used differs," Schroeder said in an interview to appear in Handelsblatt's.
"Bush told me that he harbors no attack plans. I am relying on that."
Schroeder’s remarks depicted growing differences between European leaders and Washington over the future steps which ought to be taken in the framework of the global campaign against terrorism and how uneasy some US allies in Europe and Asia are about Bush's combative position.
Moreover, Schroeder added that he supports US pressure exerted on Saddam to permit United Nations weapons inspectors back into Baghdad. Bush has threatened Iraq with unspecified consequences if it fails to comply.
"The concern about the development of weapons of mass destruction, for example in Iraq, is appropriate," Schroeder was quoted as saying.
"That is why the United States is right to demand the restoration of the UN's unlimited right to inspections."
US-European frictions over Mid-East policies and fighting terrorism have flared in recent days, with EU External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten telling Britain's The Guardian that Bush's "axis of evil" speech was "deeply unhelpful".
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer agreed, "We need to fight against terrorism with determination. But we must also look at the social and economic roots of that problem," he told reporters at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Spain. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)