Aziz dismisses death, defection rumors

Published March 19th, 2003 - 02:00 GMT

Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz appeared at a news conference Wednesday, putting to rest rumors that he had abandoned Baghdad regime.  

 

"I am carrying my pistol to confirm to you that we are ready to fight the aggressors," Aziz said. "American soldiers are nothing but mercenaries and they will be defeated."  

 

Earlier, it was reported that the Iraqi opposition was trying to verify reports indicating that Aziz may have been killed on his way to the Kurdish part of the country. 

 

Ismail Zayer of the Iraqi opposition broke the news Wednesday, interviewed for Radio Free Europe. 

 

According to BTA, Zayer expressed hope that this news will be confirmed by an independent source by Thursday. "The Iraqi opposition has reasons to believe that Aziz has attempted to escape into the Kurdish region of Iraq," Zayer said. 

 

"We have received no confirmation of such information," Iraqi Charge d'Affaires in Sofia Yahya Mahdi told BTA

 

"This is not true. Mr Tariq Aziz is a well-known patriot, he will stay in Iraq and he will be in Iraq till his last moment," the charge d'affaires said. He conveyed that the murder allegation is "cheap propaganda against Iraq." 

 

"They are aggressors and have no grounds whatsoever in terms of international law or the practice of international relations," the diplomat said in connection with the planned military operation against his country. 

 

"We have no concrete information about Tareq Aziz," Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Lyubomir Ivanov said.  

"We have lost the direct channels of information from Iraq because we have pulled out our embassy officers from that country. We are now trying to obtain information by cooperating with other services," Ivanov said. 

 

However, Albawaba.com sources dismissed the news as totally baseless. 

 

Member of the Iraqi military bureau, Dr. Musaddaq al Janabi, told Albawaba.com that he had no information about the issue, indicating that he made contacts with the opposition offices in the north. "None of those I contacted confirmed the arrival of Aziz in the north," he added. 

 

For his part, member of the Higher Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, Hamed al Bayati, ruled out the accuracy of the news report. “I have been with Kurdish leaders in Ankara for the past two days but non of them said anything about such news,” he told Albawaba.com

© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)


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