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Arab Leaders Worried About Possible Military Action Against Iraq

United States officials say President George W. Bush has made no decision regarding the use of military action against Iraq. Arab leaders are increasingly expressing their concerns and opinions regarding any possible military move against Iraq.

Kuwaiti Defense Minister Sheik Jaber Mubarak al Sabah says Iraqis want to see President Saddam Hussein toppled, although Kuwait does not want a U.S. strike against its former occupier.

Mr. al Sabah declined to say how the Iraqi regime would be toppled without the use of military force, saying Kuwait's only concern was defending its safety and stability.

American, German and Kuwaiti forces are currently conducting military exercises in Kuwait on chemical, biological and nuclear warfare.

In Damascus, Syrian President Bashar al Assad warned against making Iraq a military target in the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

He said a military strike against Iraq could "destabilize the Middle East and unleash extremist forces."

The Syrian president said, "the popular fury it would cause would be much more dangerous than the political reaction." He said he did not think the United States "needed to draw any more hatred."

In Baghdad, Sudan's Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail urged the Arab world to reject any U.S. military action against Iraq, saying Sudan and other Arab states could be the next targets.

Mr. Ismail is in Baghdad to meet with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. "If Iraq is attacked today," said the Sudanese foreign minister, "tomorrow will be Sudan and then the rest of the Arab nation." He urged Arab unity in opposing any military action against Iraq.

Early next month, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak travels to the White House. Political analysts widely believe a possible military strike against Iraq will be one of the top items on the agenda. President Mubarak has said he is opposed to the use of military force against Iraq.

In mid-March, Vice President Dick Cheney will visit the region to discuss the U.S.-led war against terrorism. He will make stops in several countries that neighbor Iraq.

On Monday, Baghdad accused Washington of launching a psychological war against Iraq in preparation for an eventual military strike.

President Bush has warned Iraq will face consequences if it does not allow U.N. weapons inspectors to return to the country. The president last month said Iraq, along with Iran and North Korea, was part of "an axis of evil" that is developing weapons of mass destruction and sponsoring terrorism.