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Iraq Dismisses Bush Comments Regarding War - 2003-01-03

President Bush's comment that he hopes the United States will not have to go to war against Iraq, is being dismissed by that country's newspapers. An editorial in Iraq's state-run newspaper Al-Iraqi said the U.S. president was simply trying to subdue world anger against him for his threats against the country and preparation for war.

The paper was reacting to a statement by President Bush Thursday in which he expressed the hope that the United States could avoid war with Iraq, but said it is necessary for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to disarm to avoid military action.

Iraq has consistently denied it has any weapons of mass destruction. Al Thawra, the newspaper of Iraq's ruling Baath party, said Iraq was "cooperating fully with U.N. inspectors, in order to expose the U.S. administration's lies about Baghdad's possession of mass destruction weapons."

Meanwhile, U.N. weapons inspectors on Friday visited more sites looking for evidence that Iraq was storing or producing banned weapons, including a missile production facility outside Baghdad and a chemical production plant near the town of Ramadi, which is west of the capital.

Since returning to Iraq more then a month ago, the U.N. inspectors have toured about 200 sites, some more than once. They are scheduled to deliver an initial report of their finding to the U.N. Security Council on January 27.