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Iraq Issue - Saudi Bases


In recent days, two key U.S. allies in the Arab world have taken opposite positions on the question of letting U.S. forces use their facilities to launch a possible attack against Iraq. As one report puts it: Kuwait says: "yes", if the Security Council sanctions it. But Saudi Arabia, a major U.S. staging area during the Gulf War, says, "no." Sunday, Saudi Arabia said, regardless of what the UN Security Council decides, none of its bases will be available.

At the U.S. State Department, Richard Boucher seemed to be downplaying the development…

RICHARD BOUCHER, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN
"We looked at the remarks - and we talked with the Saudis about the remarks - and I didn't take them, frankly, to be quite as definitive as the way they have been reported."

At a Pentagon briefing, the U.S. defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, was pressed on the apparent lukewarm support from Saudi Arabia. He appeared philosophical about it.

DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY
"Well, I kind of take the world like I find it. And what we have is a situation where countries, all across the globe, are cooperating with us in a variety of different ways."

But he again said President George W. Bush has not made a decision on the use of force against Iraq, and until he does...

DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY
"...Obviously, you don't go around asking people to make commitments with respect to it…"

Meanwhile, Iraq’s president, Saddam Hussein, said Monday he will not decide on cooperating with UN weapons inspectors until a new resolution is approved. Iraqi Television quotes Saddam as saying, "Iraq will respect any decision issued in accordance with the UN Charter and international law…”

But at the Iraq International Trade Fair, Naji Sabri, Iraq's foreign minister, said Sunday the situation does not require further UN action.

NAJI SABRI, IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER
"This is not a United Nations resolution. This is a declaration of war on the United Nations and on Iraq, prepared by those who think their life cannot be achieved unless they stage war against others, warmongers of Washington…”

And Saddam Hussein has repeated past pledges that Iraq is free of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

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