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NATO Summit Begins in Prague - 2002-11-20


President George Bush says if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein fails to comply with a United Nations deadline to abandon his weapons of mass destruction, it could mark his final state as his country’s leader. Speaking ahead of a NATO summit in Prague, Mr. Bush warned the Iraqi leader to end his deception and denial over the weapons or face the most severe consequences. VOA TV’s Deborah Block has more.

Amid tight security in Prague, President Bush and the 19 NATO allies are preparing to meet for the summit Thursday. Security was heightened even further after police found a small bomb on railroad tracks in the city. At a joint news conference with Czech president Vaclav Havel, President Bush said the enlargement of NATO will help strengthen its ability to fight global terrorism. Seven Central and Eastern European countries are expected to be invited to join the alliance – Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia.

Mr. Bush urged NATO members to join a coalition to ensure Iraq disarms, but pledged to consult with them before taking any military action. Despite earlier warnings of zero tolerance toward Iraq, he indicated Washington is seeking a broader answer on whether Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is meeting the demands of UN disarmament.

GEORGE W. BUSH
“What happens is people tend to focus on the inspectors as if the inspectors are the end. The thing that is important, the final point of determination is whether or not he is disarmed.”

The president also reiterated his previous warnings regarding Saddam Hussein.

GEORGE W. BUSH
“He has got such hate in his heart he is willing to use a weapon of mass destruction, not only on his neighborhood, but the people of his country. He is a danger.”

President Bush is holding talks with several other NATO leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, before the summit opens.

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