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Thursday, 14 March, 2002, 01:23 GMT
Bush: Saddam 'will be dealt with'
Dick Cheney (left) and Hosni Mubarak
Dick Cheney meets President Mubarak - an influential US ally
US President George W Bush has continued his rhetoric against Iraq, saying Saddam Hussein is a "problem" and "we are going to deal with him."

"I am deeply concerned about Iraq," Mr Bush told a Washington news conference. "But the first stage is to consult with allies and friends, and that is exactly what we're doing."

This is a nation run by a man who is willing to kill his own people by using chemical weapons, a man who won't let inspectors into the country, a man who's obviously got something to hide

President Bush
He was speaking as Vice-President Dick Cheney wound up talks in Egypt with President Hosni Mubarak, who said he was ready to pressure the Iraqi leader to accept the return of United Nations weapons inspectors.

There has been persistent speculation that the United States is planning to attack Iraq and Mr Cheney, who is touring the Middle East, is seeking Arab support for any strike against the regime in Baghdad.

"This is a nation run by a man who is willing to kill his own people by using chemical weapons, a man who won't let inspectors into the country, a man who's obviously got something to hide," Mr Bush told reporters in Washington.

Note of caution

President Mubarak, speaking after talks with Mr Cheney in the Red Sea resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh, said: "We'll try hard with Saddam Hussein to accept the UN inspectors to go there. We are going to meet to some of his special envoys and tell them that this is a must."

When asked whether Saddam Hussein should be removed from power if he refuses to admit inspectors, Mr Mubarak said:

"If there is nothing happening, we'll find out what could be done in that direction".

Cheney's tour
Saudi Arabia

But Mr Mubarak also urged caution on Iraq, saying "every possible effort" should be made to resolve the impasse over weapons inspections "without inflicting more suffering on the Iraqi people".

He also emphasised that it is vital to maintain Iraq's territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Earlier, Mr Cheney told US troops based in Egypt to prepare for the next stage of the war on terror.

"Our next objective is to prevent terrorists and regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction," Mr Cheney told the troops.

"The United States will not permit the forces of terror to gain the tools of genocide."

President Bush announced the "second phase" of his war against terrorism on Monday - the six-month anniversary of the 11 September attacks.

Nuclear threat

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein receives a Kurdish honour
Saddam Hussein: the next target?

A senior US official told a BBC correspondent travelling with Mr Cheney that a nuclear strike - first mooted when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 - remained an option should Iraq attack Americans with chemical or biological weapons.

It was not clear what the strategy might be if Saddam acted against a US ally such as Israel.

Our correspondent said it was hard to imagine the US using nuclear weapons that would kill tens of thousands of people but, by not ruling out the possibility, the Bush administration might be hoping to deter Saddam from rash action.

Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak
"It is of vital importance to maintain the sovereignty of Iraq"
US Vice President, Dick Cheney
"We appreciate Egypt's leadership on behalf of peace in the Middle East"
See also:

12 Mar 02 | Middle East
Cheney warned over Iraq attack
12 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Cheney and Blair give Iraq warning
11 Mar 02 | Americas
Cheney's 'thinking through' tour
07 Mar 02 | Middle East
Iraq keeps talking on arms inspectors
11 Mar 02 | Americas
Profile: Dick Cheney
14 Mar 02 | Middle East
Yemen: Centre stage of war on al-Qaeda
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