Accessibility links

White House 'Applauds' Formation of Iraqi Opposition Group - 2002-12-17

The White House says it backs the work of Iraqi opposition leaders who closed a meeting in London Tuesday with a committee they hope will be the nucleus of a post-Saddam Hussein government.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says the Bush administration "applauds" the work of the Iraqi conference as a group opposed to what he calls "the tyrannical regime in Baghdad."

"The conference represents a strong statement of the aspirations of Iraqis inside Iraq and throughout the world for a better future," he said. "We support these aspirations and we look forward to working together with all Iraqis to help achieve them."

The U.S. backed conference includes representatives from across the country's religious and ethnic lines. The committee issued a statement calling for a federal democracy in Iraq with Islam as the state religion.

State run media in Iraq called those who met in London traitors and said U.S. efforts to topple the Iraqi leader were bound to fail.

U.N. weapons inspectors are in Iraq. If they find the country in violation of U.N. resolutions, the Security Council says it will discuss possible consequences.

President Bush says he will lead his own coalition against Iraq if the United Nations does not act. He says Saddam Hussein is a threat because he could help terrorists acquire weapons of mass destruction to attack the United States or its allies.