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Thursday, 29 August, 2002, 03:50 GMT 04:50 UK
US official rejects Saudi Iraq fears
Syrian Prime Minister Mohammad Moustafa Miro, right, and Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan
Iraqi diplomats are actively enlisting support abroad
A senior adviser to US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has poured scorn on Saudi opposition to military action against Saddam Hussein.

Ken Adelman, a former deputy director of the National Security Council, told the BBC he believed that most of America's allies would quickly rally behind any US-led action.


What they [the Saudis] really fear is to have a neighbour which is democratic, which is open, which is oil-rich, which is successful

Ken Adelman
US defence adviser
Responding to comments by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, he also suggested the Saudis feared the prospect of a future stable Iraq.

Britain is said to be considering setting Baghdad an ultimatum to comply with UN Security Council resolutions on weapons inspections.

A statement by the government in London did not specify what action should be taken if Iraq did not comply.

Appeasing Saddam

An unnamed White House official quoted by the Reuters news agency has said the US will try to oust Saddam Hussein whether or not he admits weapons inspectors.

"The case for regime change is broader than just weapons of mass destruction," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

President Bush with Saudi ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan
Bush has been trying to get Arab countries on side
He said the Iraqi leader was a supporter of terrorism and a threat to the region.

Mr Adelman suggested that the Saudis regarded Iraq as a potential rival:

"What they really fear is to have a neighbour which is democratic, which is open, which is oil-rich, which is successful - like the top part of Iraq right now, the part that is protected by UK and US airpower through the no-fly zone."

The US defence secretary himself has compared Saddam to Adolf Hitler, and President George W Bush to Winston Churchill, who was one of the few voices to oppose appeasement of the Nazi leader in the 1930s.

"It wasn't until each country [in Europe] got attacked that they said: 'Maybe Winston Churchill was right? Maybe that lone voice expressing concern about what was happening was right?'" said Mr Rumsfeld.

'Unwise move'

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told the BBC that dealing with the Iraqi leader by trying to remove him from the outside would never work.

"To say that the most important thing about Iraq is the removal of Saddam Hussein we think is an unwise, to say the least, decision to make," he said, adding that the Iraqi leader's fate should be decided by his people alone.

He said that efforts should focus on persuading Iraq to readmit the weapons inspectors barred from the country in 1998.

His comments echoed statements made over the past few days by other leading Arab figures, including Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad Jassem al-Thani.

Iraq has been working on a diplomatic drive to isolate Washington.

While Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan held talks in Syria, Foreign Minister Naji Sabri visited China to enlist its support.

"Threatening to resort to force" would not solve the problem, said Chinese Foreign Minister Tank Jiaxuan.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Andrew Burroughs
"Marshalling arguments and allies in readiness for war"

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28 Aug 02 | Politics
27 Aug 02 | Middle East
27 Aug 02 | Americas
27 Aug 02 | Business
26 Aug 02 | Middle East
29 Aug 02 | Middle East
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