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Saudis Hint Support for US Attack on Iraq if UN Approves - 2002-09-15

Saudi Arabia is now suggesting it would be willing to support a U.S.-led attack against Iraq, if the United Nations Security Council gives the green light.

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, wants to know why Iraq will not agree to the return of U.N. weapons inspectors, since it says it does not possess any weapons of mass destruction, and has no plans to produce any.

The foreign minister said allowing the return of inspectors would be wise, and would spare the Iraqi people. If the inspectors are not allowed to return, "We fear that the suffering of the Iraqi people will worsen, and we will be worried about the unity, independence and stability of Iraq," said Prince Saud.

Saudi Arabia and 21 other members of the Arab League recently voted not to support any military action against Iraq, including providing logistical support or intelligence information.

However on Sunday, Prince Saud said Saudi Arabia would cooperate in a U.S.-led attack, if the United Nations Security Council gave its approval.

"If the United Nations takes a decision, by the Security Council, to implement a policy of the U.N., every country that has signed the charter of the U.N. has to fulfill it," the Saudi foreign minister emphasized. He went on to say a decision by the Security Council is binding on every member country.

Iraq wants to make the return of U.N. inspections conditional on the lifting of U.N. sanctions imposed on it when it invaded Kuwait in 1990. The inspectors left Baghdad in 1998 on the eve of American and British air strikes against Iraq and have been barred from returning.