Yemen President Warns U.S. Against Attack on Iraq; Washington: Saddam Should Go

Published February 18th, 2002 - 02:00 GMT

Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh was quoted on Sunday as warning the United States that it would "lose its allies" in the region if it attacked Iraq.  

 

However, he added, in an interview with the Arabic Al-Hayat daily, he was also pressuring the Iraqi regime to accept the return of UN inspectors, who were evacuated from Baghdad in 1998, shortly before the US and Britain carried out a massive aerial strikes against Iraqi targets.  

 

"Such a strike will not be an easy task, because it will lead to a radical change in coalitions in the region, whereby the US will lose its Arab allies," he said.  

 

"We are urging our brethren in Iraq to accept the return of the inspectors, whose mission was already approved [by Baghdad], and deprive the US of any pretext," he added.  

 

He emphasized that Baghdad "may commit the UN to a condition that the inspectors dispatched to Iraq be not spies", a reference to Iraqi allegations that the inspectors were ordered to leave Iraq "because they were involved in espionage activities for the US and Israel".  

 

However, the Yemeni President said that he "personally believed such a strike will not take place". "What are they going to strike? Will they hit an already crushed people?" he asked.  

 

U.S. 

 

Meanwhile, on the eve of his first state visit to the Korean peninsula, US President George W. Bush said he was keeping all options open but aimed to resolve peacefully differences with Iran, Iraq and North Korea.  

 

"I will keep all options on the table," Bush told a joint press conference in Tokyo Monday with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, referring to the three states he has dubbed "an axis of evil."  

 

"We want to resolve all issues peacefully, whether it be Iraq, Iran or North Korea," the US leader said at the start of a key Asian tour which will give him his first glimpse into one of his blackmarked countries.  

 

Even though US officials have emphasized that no military plans exist for expanding the war on terror launched in the wake of the September 11 attacks, they said late Sunday that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein should go, reported AFP.  

 

"We've made no secret of the fact that we think that the world will be much safer when the Iraqi people have a regime that they deserve instead of the regime that they have," national security adviser Condoleezza Rice told CBS television. But she added: "I can assure you, he's (Bush) taken no decision about the use of force against Iraq."  

 

US Secretary of State Colin Powell also stressed on NBC's "Meet the Press": "There is no attack plan or military option that has been brought forward by the president's advisors." But he highlighted there were "opposition elements, personalities, forces who would give us a better turn of the cards, so to speak, in Baghdad, than the Hussein regime." (Albawaba.com) 

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