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Gadhafi:  Saddam Hussein Will Never Leave Iraq to Avoid War - 2003-02-04

Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi says Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will never agree to leave Iraq to avoid a U.S.-led war. VOA Correspondent Alisha Ryu was among a select group of reporters who spoke to Mr. Gadhafi in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he attended Monday's African Union summit.

Speaking in Arabic through an interpreter, the Libyan leader said Monday, that it was "wishful thinking" to say that Saddam Hussein is considering exile in another country.

"First of all, don't believe the lies that say that Saddam Hussein would leave Iraq," he said. "He would stay in Iraq, or he would die in Iraq. He has no reason to leave Iraq. He will not leave Iraq."

Mr. Gadhafi was referring to recent reports that leaders of several Arab countries were quietly discussing an exile deal for the Iraqi leader in the hope of averting a second war in the Gulf.

The United States says that a military showdown with Iraq could be avoided if Saddam Hussein gave up weapons of mass destruction or voluntarily left the country.

The Libyan leader warns if the United States launches an attack on Iraq, even with approval from the U.N. Security Council, it could lead to more terrorist attacks around the world.

"We don't know the consequences of a war. Perhaps there will be counter-repercussions, or counter results of the war," he said. "And in the end, or finally, terrorism will be victorious."

Mr. Gadhafi was in Addis Ababa for the first summit of the newly-formed African Union, a grouping of 53 member states. He is widely believed to have been the force and the chief financier behind the creation of the African Union last year, which replaced the largely powerless Organization of African Unity.

Senior AU officials, however, dispute the widespread perception that the leader of the oil-rich nation spearheaded the formation of the African Union as an attempt to buy power and influence among African countries.

Libya is on the U.S. list of states that sponsor terrorism. Mr. Gadhafi is blamed for being behind the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed more than 200 people.