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World Must Act Against Iraq Before It Links with al-Qaida, says Bush - 2002-09-25

President George W. Bush says the world must take action against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to prevent him from joining-up with al-Qaida terrorists. The president says his campaign against Iraq is part of the larger fight against international terrorism.

President Bush said there is no difference between the Iraqi leader and al-Qaida terrorists when it comes to protecting America against attack.

"The danger is that al-Qaida becomes and extension of Saddam's madness and his hatred and his capacity to extend weapons of mass destruction around the world," explained Mr. Bush. "Both of them need to be dealt with. You can't distinguish between al-Qaida and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror."

The president is pushing for a U.N. resolution that would force the Iraqi leader to disarm. Mr. Bush says Saddam Hussein is stockpiling chemical and biological weapons. Iraq says that is not true and has offered to resume U.N. weapons inspections to prove it.

That offer has slowed momentum for a U.N. resolution that the Bush Administration says could come this week. The president is continuing to lobby world leaders for their support at the United Nations. His comments Wednesday came at the start of a meeting with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

Some Democrats in Congress accuse the president of politicizing his call for action against Iraq, as it is now the centerpiece of his campaigning for Republican candidates in November Congressional elections.

President Bush says it is not a question of politics, it is his duty to protect the nation against terrorist attack.

"You may try to politicize it. I view it as my main obligation, that is to protect the American people," said Mr. Bush. "It is the most important job this president will have, and it is the most important job future presidents will have because the nature of war has changed. We are vulnerable."

President Bush is asking Congress for a resolution authorizing the use of American force against Iraq. Democrats say the draft proposal the White House sent to Congress last week is too broad as it gives the president open-ended authority to use military force to drive the Iraqi leader from power and secure peace in the region.

President Bush says if the international community does not move to disarm Saddam Hussein, the United States is ready to act against Iraq on its own.