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From the news

*       Jacques and Bill (Associated Press)
*       Chirac on sanctions and Saddam (Agence France-Presse) [HG's
note: Chirac's statement of the strengthening effect of sanctions on
Saddam is important, BUT in stating that "President Saddam Hussein is
responsible for all the miseries of the Iraqi people" (as, according to
a long-term view of the situation, he is), Chirac is propagating the
myth that the negative effects of western sanctions policy on Iraqi
people are insignificant. In other words, the west bears no
responsibility for the humanitarian crisis (in the immortal words of
Albright, "You can't lay that guilt trip on me!")]
*       Washington "taking Iraq threats seriously" (Associated Press)
*       Iraqi government-run newspapers predicting new air strike in
April (Agence France-Presse)
*       Tariq Aziz in Ankara: "Iraq does not constitute a threat to its
neighbours", and statements on Iraq-Turkish and Kurdish relations
(Arabic News)

French President Visits Clinton 
By Harry Dunphy, Associated Press Writer, Thursday, February 18, 1999;
3:06 a.m. EST


WASHINGTON (AP) -- French President Jacques Chirac is using a two-day
visit to the United States to demonstrate there is more that unites the
two old allies than divides them. But differences do exist, on Iraq and
currency alignment. White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said the two
leaders would discuss Kosovo, NATO's 50th anniversary summit in
Washington in April, Iraq, Russia and global financial issues. After
lunch Friday, they are scheduled to hold a joint news conference.

In an interview in Paris with The Associated Press before his departure,
Chirac bristled at the idea the United States and France are
competitors, even though they differ on some foreign policy issues,
particularly the recent U.S.-British air strikes on Iraq. ``France is
not worried about a powerful United States,'' Chirac said. ``In the
world today it is a real necessity. France wants to be part of a strong
Europe and we do as much as we can. I don't like the idea of presenting
Europe and the United States as competitors,'' Chirac added. ``We have
the same values. We are two great democracies. We are partners and we
must be great partners.'' 

On Iraq, Chirac emphasized common points with Washington rather than
differences. ``I wouldn't say that French and American policy are so
different,'' he said. ``We both agree about the responsibility of Saddam
Hussein.''  But he also referred to a French plan he intends to raise
with Clinton, under which Iraq would agree to allow weapons inspections
in return for lifting the U.N. embargo on its oil, which Chirac argues
hurts the Iraqi people.  ``The thing is that France asks: What shall we
do after the bombs?'' he said.  The United States, whose objective is to
topple Saddam, is skeptical about the French plan.

[NB see article below, published before Chirac's visit to Clinton]

Chirac to try to sell Iraqi deal to Clinton: report 
Agence France-Presse, 12:10 GMT, 16 February 1999

PARIS, Feb 16 (AFP) -President Jacques Chirac hopes to win United States
support on a French plan to lift the oil embargo against Iraq if Baghdad
will allow international inspections of its weapons programmes to
resume. In an interview with US journalists here carried by the New York
Times, Chirac said "President Saddam Hussein is responsible for all the
miseries of the Iraqi people." Speaking ahead of a meeting in Washington
with President Bill Clinton on Friday, Chirac said "The more the (Iraqi)
population suffers, the more it rallies to Saddam Hussein and
strengthens him." The French president went on "Getting rid of Saddam
Hussein is easily said, but very difficult to do."

U.S. Taking Iraq Threats Seriously 
By Robert Burns, AP Military Writer, Wednesday, February 17, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Iraq has three main options for carrying out its
threat to attack Turkey, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia for supporting recent
U.S. air attacks, but none is likely to succeed, U.S. defense officials
say. Iraq could fire Scud missiles, attack by air with planes, or launch
a terrorist attack, Kenneth Bacon, spokesman for Defense Secretary
William Cohen, said Tuesday.  ``All of these would be difficult, given
the circumstances that Iraq faces today,'' Bacon said, referring to the
deterioration of Iraq's military since the 1991 Persian Gulf war, the
effect of the U.N. economic embargo and the strength of U.S. forces in
the area that could retaliate.

Iraq's state-controlled media warned U.S. allies Tuesday they will pay a
high price for playing host to American and British warplanes that
patrol ``no-fly'' zones over Iraq. The planes have attacked Iraqi air
defense installations almost daily in recent weeks in what the Pentagon
calls self-defense. Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said Monday
that Baghdad would attack Incirlik Air Base in south-central Turkey --
used by U.S. and British warplanes -- if the jets continue patrolling
Iraqi skies. It was the first time in years Iraq has threatened to
attack its northern neighbor. ``Whether or not he means this threat to
be taken seriously, we have to take seriously threats like this,'' Bacon
said. He said Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is searching for a way to
intimidate his neighbors. ``It's a sign of Saddam Hussein's desperation
and isolation that Iraq is making such threats,'' Bacon said. 

In Ankara, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz defended his
government's threat. ``The U.S. and British planes are killing Iraqis,
are destroying Iraqi property, and this is not acceptable,'' Aziz said
Tuesday. ``A Turkish air base should not be used by the Americans and
British to hurt Iraqis.'' Bacon said Incirlik is at ``the very outer
edge'' of the range of Scud ballistic missiles that Iraq might use
against Turkey and is protected by a small contingent of U.S. Army
Patriot anti-missile missiles. Iraq says it has no more Scud missiles,
but U.N. arms inspectors are not sure. 

Bacon said Iraq's depleted air force would stand little chance against
U.S. and allied air defenses in Turkey, Kuwait or Saudi Arabia. ``I
don't think that they have significant air power to be able to launch a
longer-range attack against bases deep inside another country's
territory, and it would be extremely unwise for them to try to do
that,'' Bacon said.

Iraq sees major US strike by April
Agence France-Presse, 11:38 GMT, 17 February 1999

BAGHDAD, Feb 17 (AFP) -Iraq said Wednesday it expects a major new US
assault by April following Washington's repeated warnings of severe
punishment if Baghdad carries out threats to attack Saudi Arabia and
Kuwait. "The US escalation started two days ago and will continue in
coming weeks to prepare a new military strike against Iraq under UN
cover, within 45 days at the most," said Babel newspaper run by
President Saddam Hussein's son Uday. "The intensification of enemy air
raids in the north and south of Iraq was prepared in advance by the
United States, which realized they can not change the regime, as they
like to call it, without direct military action," it said. "Unable to
achieve this objective, they are trying to inflict human losses on Iraq
and weaken its air defences" ahead of a major strike like the Desert Fox
air war waged by Washington and London in mid-December, said Babel.

Iraq's Aziz speaks on Turkey, the siege on Iraq
Arabic News, Iraq, Politics, 2/17/99

Iraqi Deputy Premier Tariq Aziz announced on Tuesday that all the
long-range Scud missiles Iraq had imported from the Soviet Union were
totally destroyed. In a press conference he held in Ankara on Tuesday
Aziz added that Iraq does not constitute any danger to its neighbors. He
added that his current visit to Turkey falls in the natural course of
relations between officials in the two countries. Aziz indicated the
common interests between the two neighboring countries, stating,
"Therefore I held lengthy and profound talks with the Turkish Prime
Minister Bulent Ecevit and with the Foreign Minister Ismael Cem and
viewpoints were identical on certain issues and disputes were on other
debated matters."

Aziz described his visit to Turkey as "useful," adding that it was
agreed to continue contacts between the two countries. Aziz asserted
that he explained to the Turkish officials that permitting the British
and the Americans to use Incirlik base does not serve the joint
interests of the two neighboring countries. He expressed hope that
Turkey will halt anti-Iraqi activities made through allowing the use of
the the air base. Aziz added that during talks with the Turkish side
stress was laid on the Iraqi demands on the need for the full lifting of
the sanctions imposed on Iraq and to stop launching aggressions on Iraq.

Aziz asserted that the imposition of the air embargo by the US aims at
partitioning Iraq rather than protecting the Iraqi people. He, in this
regard, indicated that he entered Turkey from the al-Khabour border
point between the two countries and passed through the areas which fall
under the influence of chairman of the Kurdish Democratic Party headed
by Mesoud Barzani and that there is no problem between the Iraqi
government and the Kurds in northern Iraq. Aziz added that dialogue
continues between the government of Baghdad and the Iraqi Kurds to find
a political solution with them. Aziz denied that Iraq supports the
Kurdistani Workers Party (PKK): "It is a Turkish internal issue and Iraq
has no relevance to it." Aziz also expressed his astonishment that
Turkish President Suleiman Demirel did not meet with him, saying that
protocol calls for Demirel to receive visiting foreign officials.
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