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[casi] Rumsfeld on Iraq

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Rumsfeld: Iraq Is 'Lying' About Weapons
Defense Secretary Visits Kuwait

.c The Associated Press

KUWAIT CITY (June 10) - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Monday
dismissed claims by the Iraqi government that it has no nuclear, chemical or
biological weapons and is making no effort to acquire them.

``They are lying,'' he told a news conference at Kuwait's international
airport before flying to Bahrain.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry in Baghdad issued a statement Sunday asserting the
government of Saddam Hussein has neither made nor possessed weapons of mass
destruction in more than a decade.

``Iraq has said on many occasions that it is not concerned with entering the
mass destruction weapons club. ... We left it in 1991,'' the official
statement said.

Rumsfeld said the Iraqi claim cannot be trusted.

``It is false, not true, inaccurate and typical,'' the defense secretary
said, adding that Iraq remains a destabilizing factor in the Gulf region.

``They have had an active program to develop nuclear weapons,'' Rumsfeld
said. ``It's also clear they are actively developing biological weapons'' and
used chemical weapons against their own Kurdish population in the 1980s.

Rumsfeld met Monday with senior Kuwaiti government officials, including
Defense Minister Sheik Jabir al-Mubarak. He said they discussed Iraqi
violations of the United Nations resolutions that Baghdad agreed to live up
to as a condition of ending the 1991 Persian Gulf War. He said they discussed
``the way ahead'' in the global war on terrorism but not potential military
actions against Iraq.

A reporter asked Rumsfeld what he thought of Iraq's recent pledge to respect
Kuwait's sovereignty and to restore full relations with the Kuwaiti
government. He said that accepting Iraq's word of good intentions toward
Kuwait ``would be like the lion inviting the chicken to embrace.''

``What good, in the past, have Iraqi representations of goodwill to its
neighbors been? Precious little,'' he said. ``Should hope spring eternal?
Maybe, maybe not. It depends on the risks.''

Rumsfeld also said he invited Kuwaiti government representatives to meet with
a dozen Kuwaitis who are among the more than 300 Taliban or al-Qaida fighters
captured in Afghanistan and held prisoner at a U.S. Navy base in Cuba.

Rumsfeld told reporters the Kuwaitis' meeting at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, would
have two purposes: to glean additional intelligence from the prisoners and to
determine ``if there is any law enforcement interest'' in them.

It marked the first time Rumsfeld has publicly acknowledged the nationality
of any Arabs held at Guantanamo Bay and specified how many of any specific
nationality are imprisoned.

On Sunday at Kuwait's Camp Doha, a desert encampment 35 miles from the Iraqi
border, Rumsfeld told American troops that state sponsors of terrorism must
be punished.

Without mentioning Iraq by name, Rumsfeld said the soldiers are on the front
lines against a dangerous foe.

``You are the people who stand between freedom and fear, between our people
and a dangerous adversary that cannot be appeased, cannot be ignored and
cannot be allowed to win,'' he told about 1,000 troops assembled in an
air-conditioned gymnasium on a 110-degree afternoon Sunday.

Rumsfeld left little doubt he was aiming his words at Iraq, which he often
says is among nations that support international terrorist groups and could
help them gain access to weapons of mass destruction.

These states, he said, ``do need to be stopped so that they cannot threaten
or hold free people hostage to blackmail or terror.''

He again alluded to Iraq in describing the ultimate goal of President Bush's
war on terror.

``It will not end until state sponsors of terror are made to understand that
abetting terrorism is unacceptable and will have deadly consequences for the
regimes that do so,'' Rumsfeld said.

Kuwait is the forward headquarters for U.S. Army Central Command, the land
warfare component of U.S. Central Command.

A U.S.-led international coalition of ground forces liberated tiny Kuwait
from Iraqi army occupation in February 1991.

It was Rumsfeld's first visit to Kuwait as defense secretary. He was in the
Gulf in October to visit Saudi Arabia and Oman, but did not get to the
smaller countries in the northern Gulf.

Later this week, Rumsfeld is scheduled to travel to India and Pakistan to
continue Bush administration efforts to persuade the nuclear-armed neighbors
to defuse military tensions over Kashmir.

06/10/02 06:12 EDT

Copyright 2002 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news
report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed
without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.  All active
hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL

Roger Stroope
Peace is a Human Right
Austin College

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