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Bush Warns of More Iraqi  'Acts of Deception' - 2003-02-27

President Bush is warning the world to watch out for more acts of deception from Iraq. Mr. Bush says the current dispute over banned Iraqi missiles should not detract from the drive to totally disarm Saddam Hussein.

U.N. inspectors have called on Iraq to destroy the missiles by Saturday because they can fly beyond range limits imposed after the 1991 Gulf War.

Iraq has promised an answer in the next two days. President Bush urges the world to keep an eye on the big picture, saying Saddam Hussein is using the issue to divert attention from calls to totally disarm.

"The discussion about these rockets is part of his campaign of deception," Mr. Bush said. "See, he'll say, 'I'm not going to destroy the rockets' and then he'll have a change of mind this weekend and destroy the rockets and say, ' I've disarmed.' "

The president said these missiles and the rockets that carry them represent "the tip of the iceberg."

"The only question at hand is total, complete disarmament, which he is refusing to do," the president noted.

Mr. Bush spoke at the end of a meeting at the White House with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

President Bush praised the Afghan leader, saying the country has made great strides since the start of the war on terrorism. Mr. Karzai agreed, but added much more help is needed. Echoing statements he made Wednesday before members of the U.S. Senate, he urged the United States not to abandon Afghanistan as it prepares for possible war to disarm Iraq.

"I am here to thank you and the American people and I am also here to ask you to do more for us in making the life of the Afghan people better, more stable, more peaceful," Mr. Karzai said. "I am also here to tell you that the war against terrorism is going on. We have defeated them. But some elements are still there and we should go on strong and tough to get them all and free the world from that menace."

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the talks with the Afghan leader covered a number of reconstruction concerns. He said they did not discuss the possible whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, the head of the al-Qaida terrorist network.