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Sunday, 17 December, 2000, 15:41 GMT
Iraq dismisses Powell's threats
Saddam Hussein
Powell claims that Saddam's days are numbered
A defiant Iraq has shrugged off comments made by US Secretary of State-designate Colin Powell that he would work to breathe new life into sanctions against Iraq.

Lieutenant General Shaheen Yassin, Commander of Iraqi air defences, said: "Powell's threats do not frighten us and they will not make us bow. Such threats only make us more determined."


We are fully alert, ready and with our weapons in our hands to fight against any new threat

Lieutenant General Shaheen

"Let him make threats. Others have done the same before him," he warned, in a reference to the outgoing administration of US President Bill Clinton.

The comments came in response to Mr Powell's claims on Saturday that "Saddam Hussein is sitting on a failed regime that is not going to be around in a few years' time."

Little change at the top

At the political level, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz has played down the impact of the change of administration in Washington.

Colin Powell and George W Bush
Baghdad says that the new administration will mean no policy change
In the highest-level Iraqi reaction since George W Bush was finally confirmed the victor of 7 November elections, he said: "Be the American Government Republican or Democrat, there will be no change in American policy" towards Baghdad.

"In America, there's an institution that governs: that's money, which confers power," he told reporters.

An official of Iraq's ruling Baath party, meanwhile, urged the Bush administration "to opt for dialogue, and not force, to settle outstanding problems".

Past failures

"The language of threats has failed in the past and it will fail in the future," said Saad Kassem Hammudi.

In contrast, the Iraqi opposition-in-exile said on Sunday that it would work with the new US administration to topple Saddam Hussein.

"We want to co-operate more closely with the new administration, to overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein and establish democracy in Iraq," said a spokesman for the Iraqi National Congress.

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See also:

16 Dec 00 | Americas
Bush appoints 'American hero'
17 Dec 00 | Americas
Bush foreign agenda takes shape
16 Dec 00 | Americas
Powell's speech - excerpts
01 Dec 00 | Middle East
Analysis: Saddam steps up defiance
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