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SCIRI will work with US!

Iraqi Opposition Would Work With US
By Ali Akbar Dareini
Associated Press Writer
Saturday, April 7, 2001; 10:11 a.m. EDT

TEHRAN, Iran -- An influential Iraqi opposition group previously opposed to
cooperation with the United States said Saturday it would now welcome U.S.
efforts to help oust President Saddam Hussein.

Mohammad Hadi of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq said
his Iranian-based group was now "more realistic" and would be ready for
direct talks with Washington.

"We are ready to talk with anybody in our efforts to get rid of Saddam,
including the United States," Hadi told The Associated Press. "American
pressure on Saddam not to use heavy weapons against our civilian population
would encourage us to enter into a direct dialogue."

The group, which is supported by Iran, had refused in the past to commit
itself to any U.S.-supported plan to oust the Iraqi leader, accusing
Washington of not being serious about overthrowing Saddam. Hadi said he
thought the White House had not changed its position toward Iraq since
President Bush took office.

But he said his movement was changing its stance on cooperating with

"Our basic need today is to see Saddam toppled and to protect the interests
and lives of our Iraqi people," said Hadi, who is close to the group's
leader, Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim.

The U.S. Congress has allocated $97 million in aid for Iraqi dissidents,
though Hadi said his group has "never received financial assistance from the
United States."

The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq has a big following
among Shiite Muslims, who form the majority of Iraqi people. Baghdad
government forces crushed a Shiite rebellion in southern Iraq soon after the
1991 Gulf War. However, Shiite dissent continues to simmer in the south.

 Copyright 2001 The Associated Press

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