Iraqi President Saddam Hussein received on Tuesday the Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, who stated that Qatar, as all the Arab countries, is opposed to any attack on Iraq. However, long-time U.S. ally Qatar did not dismiss the American accusations against Iraqi weapons programs.
During the meeting, President Saddam Hussein asserted that Iraq was being treated unfairly by the United Nations. "Iraq has met all the commitments imposed on it by the UN Security Council, but the Council has failed to fulfill the commitments stipulated in its own resolutions, especially the lifting of the unjust embargo and respecting Iraq's sovereignty," President Saddam Hussein said. He also slammed the U.S threats on Iraq, saying it is a plan not targeting Iraq only but the entire Arab world.
Foreign Minister Al Thani told the Iraqi leader that all Arab countries, including Qatar, are opposed to any attack on Iraq. However, his statements made it clear that Qatar does not dismiss U.S. charges regarding Iraq’s programs of weapons of mass destruction, and sees these as an issue that must be resolved by means other then war.
Qatari newspapers praised the visit of Foreign Minister Al Thani as a genuine Arab effort to prevent a U.S. military strike against a fellow Arab country. Qatari newspaper Al Watan urged Arab governments to translate this official rejection into practical action in the form of a common diplomatic drive to explain to the world’s nations the Arab point of view, and the perils of a U.S. military action that would affect not only the gulf region but the whole world. “Arabs can manage, if they closed ranks, to strongly affect the position of the ‘hawks’ within the U.S. administration, Al Watan said.
Arrayah newspaper said the Foreign Minister's visit to Baghdad was a move to eliminate any justification the U.S. administration could claim regarding return of United Nations weapons inspectors to Iraq, and an effort to understand Iraq's concern about this issue. “The Qatari position is clear in opposing a military solution to the Iraq issue,” Arrayah said.
The Iraqi hosts present at the meeting included, apart from President Hussein, Deputy Premier Tareq Aziz, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Lt. Gen. Ali Hassan Al Majeed, and Acting Foreign Minister Dr. Humam Abdul Khaliq. Qatar’s Foreign Minister Al Thani was accompanied by the Director of the Arab Department at the Qatari Foreign Ministry. (www.albawaba.com)
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