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Iraqi Envoy to Indonesia Says US Intends to Topple Saddam Hussein - 2002-10-02


An Iraqi official says the United States' opposition to a deal on arms inspections shows that Washington still intends to topple Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The special envoy from Baghdad also suggests that Indonesia help form a team to monitor weapons inspectors.

Special Iraqi envoy Humam Abdulkhaleq Abdul Ghafoor says the United States' political agenda in Iraq has not been changed by recent diplomatic breakthroughs.

On Tuesday, officials from the United Nations and Iraq agreed to resume U.N. inspections of Baghdad's weapons programs. The agreement could pave the way for inspectors to return to Iraq within weeks to resume hunting for alleged weapons of mass destruction.

But U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell rejected the plan. He said instead the United States wants the United Nations to pass a new Security Council resolution on inspections.

Wednesday, Mr. Ghafoor said that shows Washington wants to go to war. "So they want to liberate Iraq from the Iraqi people. And for this purpose they are preparing for a new aggression, comprehensive aggression against my country," Mr. Ghafoor said. "So this is their political agenda, to change the regime, and they bring another regime. They are saying this day and night. It's not secret. It's very well known."

Mr. Ghafoor met Wednesday with Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda, and with President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

After the meetings, Foreign Minister Wirajuda said the Iraqi envoy suggested that Indonesia help create an independent team to monitor the U.N. inspectors. Mr. Wirajuda says the Iraqis would like the team to be made up of representatives of different countries.

The United States thinks Iraq has not dismantled its weapons of mass destruction, as required by the U.N. Security Council after the Gulf War ended in 1991. Therefore, Washington says, a stronger mandate for weapons inspections is needed. The United States has not ruled out taking military action against Iraq if it does not show that its weapons programs have been discontinued.

Mr. Ghafoor says Iraq will welcome U.N. inspectors. "And we hope that inspection teams can tell the world as soon as possible Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction or not," Mr. Ghafoor said. "We are saying that we don't have such weapons. We are very confident of that, of course. And they have to tell the world about this truth." Indonesia's foreign minister says Jakarta thinks no new U.N. Security Council resolution is necessary for weapons inspections to be carried out. The government also has indicated it opposes any unilateral U.S. military action against Iraq.