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'Saddam Will Not Resign,' says Iraqi Envoy - 2003-01-20

A top Iraqi envoy has dismissed speculation that President Saddam Hussein might resign and go into exile.

The Iraqi envoy, Ali Hassan al Mejid, insisted that suggestions that Saddam Hussein go into exile are nonsense, part of what he called a strategy of psychological warfare.

Mr. Mejid insisted the Iraqi leader was elected by 100 percent of the Iraqi people and that every man, woman and child would fight to defend him.

A trusted adviser and first cousin of the Iraqi president, Mr. Mejid arrived in Lebanon Monday morning, on the second leg of a trip that is expected to take him to several other Arab capitals.

He met top Syrian officials over the weekend, including President Bashar al Assad, amid growing concern in the Arab world about the consequences of a possible attack on Iraq.

There has been increasing speculation in the Arab press of behind-the-scenes diplomatic maneuvering to convince Saddam Hussein to step down.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been working to arrange a meeting of Arab leaders later this week to discuss ways to avoid a war.