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Iraq Lashes Back at Bush Speech - 2002-09-12

Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations says President Bush is trying to deceive world opinion with his speech to the U.N. General Assembly.

In a brief comment to reporters, Ambassador Mohammed al-Douri said the president lacks any evidence linking Iraq to terrorism and so delivered a long series of fabrications.

He said the United States is out to target any independent nation that does not adhere to U.S. policy. He also said President Bush is trying to divert attention from what he called the "real threat to peace" - U.S. support of Israel in the Middle East conflict.

In contrast, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the president made a very effective speech. Britain has been the United States' strongest supporter for taking action against Iraq.

In his speech, Mr. Bush challenged the United Nations to act in the face of Iraq's refusal to abide by U.N. resolutions. The president demanded Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein renounce weapons of mass destruction, support for terrorism and the repression of his own people if he wants peace.

Meanwhile, the office of British Prime Minister Tony Blair says September 24 will be the date for a special one-day debate on Iraq in the British House of Commons. The office says a dossier on Iraq's capacity for weapons of mass destruction will be released on the same day. Mr. Blair promised the dossier in a speech last week.

Earlier Wednesday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he hopes any U.S. action against Iraq will not diminish world attention to Afghanistan. Speaking to the American television network ABC, Mr. Karzai said he would prefer any attack against Iraq be done in agreement and participation of the Arab world.