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Reuters: US Denies Plans To Bomb Iraq (extract)

U.S. Defense Sec'y Denies Plans To Bomb North Iraq

12:10 a.m. Jan 15, 1999 Eastern 

SEOUL (Reuters) - Secretary of Defense William Cohen said on Friday the
United States would sustain its drive to contain Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein, but denied rumors it was planning to bomb Iraq at the end of
the Muslim fasting month. 

``Rumors, if repeated long enough, are sometimes treated as fact. There
is no basis to the rumor about any action (to be) taken against northern
Iraq following Ramadan,'' Cohen told a news conference following defense
talks in South Korea. 

``As we have indicated before on many, many occasions, we intend to
continue our containment policy. We intend to continue to prevent him
(Saddam) from posing a threat to his neighbors and attacking his
neighbors or developing weapons of mass destruction capable of
threatening his neighbors. That is our policy and that will remain
intact. And so there is no basis to the rumor that you have just
raised,'' he said in response to a question. 

But Cohen did not close the possibility of some preemptive U.S. British
strikes against anti-aircraft missiles and radar facilities which
threaten jets patrolling the northern and southern no-fly zones. 

``As I have indicated on several occasions in the past week, we will
take whatever action is necessary to protect our pilots and those of our
British friends, both in the north and the south,'' he said. ``It is a
policy that will be continued.'' 

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