Iraq attacks Bush's 'fabrications'

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -- Iraq's U.N. ambassador has called President George W. Bush's speech the "longest series of fabrications" and an attempt to divert attention from the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

Ambassador Mohammed Aldouri, who was in the U.N. General Assembly hall on Thursday when Bush spoke, said the United States had repeatedly failed to find any evidence Iraq was involved in terrorism.

"I only can say that President Bush's speech had no credibility at all and I am sorry to say that a leader of a major power would resort to such methods," Aldouri told reporters.
 
Bush told the assembly that unspecified action would be unavoidable against Iraq unless the United Nations forced Baghdad to disarm. If Iraq fails to comply with U.N. resolutions, the Baghdad government would lose power, he said.

Aldouri said the United States was out to target any independent nation that refused to adhere to American policy.

In this case, he said Bush was trying to divert attention "to the real threat to peace" that was caused by his government's support of Israel in the Middle East conflict.

"I would have been pleased if the U.S. president had talked about his true motives behind his speech -- revenge, oil, political ambitions and also the security of Israel," he said.

"The U.S. president was successful in diverting the attention of the real threat of peace caused by his government's policy and its backing to Israel."

"If they are threatening, if they would attack, certainly we will be there for defending ourselves," Aldouri said.

He also insisted there was no evidence his country had weapons of mass destruction -- nuclear, biological, chemical or ballistic arms. Accounting for Iraq's dangerous weapons is key to lifting U.N. sanctions, imposed when Baghdad's troop invaded Kuwait in August 1990.

"It seems to me that since the U.S. president discovered that it's impossible to find any evidence that Iraq possesses or develops weapons of mass destruction and link Iraq to terrorism, he chooses to deceive the world and his own people by the longest series of fabrications that has ever been told by a leader of a nation," Aldouri said.

He also said Iraq was ready to accept the return of U.N. weapons inspectors but repeated conditions that all open issues in Security Council resolutions concerning his country would have to be resolved.

The inspectors were pulled out of Iraq in December 1998, hours before a U.S.-British bombing raid. They have not been allowed to return since.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has made it clear to Iraq that weapons teams would discuss arrangements for the inspectors' return but not other political issues involved.

Iraq's Foreign Minister Naji Sabri is due to arrive in New York on Friday and will address the assembly next week.


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