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Wednesday, 19 September, 2001, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
Iraq denies role in US attacks
Iraqi women protest against the US in Baghdad
Many Iraqis fear the US is looking for an excuse to attack them
Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri has fiercely denied his country was involved in last week's suicide hijack attacks on New York and Washington.

The denial follows reports that the CIA is investigating information that Mohammed Atta - believed to have been a hijacker on the first plane to crash into the World Trade Center last Tuesday - met Iraqi intelligence in Europe earlier this year.


The United States, Great Britain, the Western states and the rest of the world know full well that Iraq has no link, near or far, with the attacks against American interests

Foreign Minister Naji Sabri

Mr Sabri told the al-Iqtisadi weekly there was "no link, near or far" between Iraq and the attacks, which have left nearly 6,000 people dead or missing.

He also specifically denied any meeting between an official and a suspect hijacker when asked by the Reuters news agency.

Baghdad has already said that Americans brought the attacks on themselves, although letters of condolence have been sent to US figures who publicly oppose the crippling UN sanctions on the country.

Apprehension

The BBC's Caroline Hawley says many Iraqis feel the US is determined to try to pin the blame on Baghdad in some form, in order to justify a fresh round of attacks on the country.

The US is the key proponent of the economic sanctions against Iraq imposed over a decade ago after the country invaded Kuwait.

Baghdad also claims that hundreds of people have been killed as a result of raids routinely carried out by the US and Britain.

US President George Bush has made clear his belief that last week's attacks open the way for a campaign not just against those responsible but also against terrorism worldwide.

The stance troubles those with poor US relations.

A British MP visiting injured children in an Iraqi hospital
Iraq claims many are killed or injured during raids
"It is unreasonable for the United States to impose on the world its definition of terrorism and include any armed action that targets its interests, policy, injustice," said Mr Sabri.

The prime suspect behind Tuesday's terror attacks is Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden, who is believed to operate in more than 40 countries.

President Bush is holding extensive talks with foreign leaders in the hope of building up a global coalition to join him in his battle.

Several key countries are understood however to be insisting that the US should use its military might only when it is proved beyond doubt who was responsible for the attacks.

See also:

18 Sep 01 | Media reports
Saddam tells West 'be wise'
17 Sep 01 | Middle East
Iran condemns attacks on US
14 Sep 01 | Americas
Islamic world deplores US losses
14 Sep 01 | Americas
How far can Arab states co-operate?
12 Sep 01 | Middle East
Iraq hails attack on US
12 Sep 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Impact on the Middle East
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