U.S. President George W. Bush’s said Tuesday that disarming Iraq remains a priority for the new year. While celebrating the holiday at his Texas ranch, Mr. Bush said he will continue to push Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to give up his weapons of mass destruction.
U.S. PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH
“Again, I hope this Iraq situation will be resolved peacefully. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to work to deal with these situations in a way so that they are resolved peacefully. But thus far, it appears that on first look, that Saddam Hussein hadn’t heard the message.”
Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said in a radio interview that as long as Iraq cooperates with inspections there is no need for military action.
KOFI ANNAN, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY GENERAL
“The inspectors have been given fresh powers, which I think they are using well. They are so far been able to keep up their work unimpeded and we await their first report in January.”
In Baghdad, Iraqi deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz called for peace while meeting with a group of church leaders.
TARIQ AZIZ, IRAQI DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER
“The situation is hands of the warmongers, and we hope that they will listen to the voices of peace here in Iraq, as well as America.”
Also in Iraq, United Nations arms experts continued searching for banned weapons in and around Baghdad. They searched seven facilities, including an oil and development site and a pharmaceutical company. Unlike previous investigations, workers complained that the inspectors behaved like “gangsters,” in their words, ransacking and mishandling personal belongings.