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Wednesday, 11 September, 2002, 01:49 GMT 02:49 UK
Cheney keeps pressure on Saddam
US F14 aircraft on carrier in Arabian sea
The US is seeking support for a military campaign
US Vice-President Dick Cheney has taken the opportunity of the 11 September anniversary to draw attention to possible links between Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaeda network.

Speaking on video tape after a heightened security alert required him to be moved to a secure location, Mr Cheney said that the war on terror was still in its early stages.


Containment is not possible when dictators have weapons of mass destruction and are prepared to share them with terrorists

Dick Cheney
In a clear reference to Iraq, he warned of dictators obtaining weapons of mass destruction and being prepared to share them with terrorists.

The prospect of the two working together, he said, represented the gravest threat imaginable.

The BBC's Steve Kingstone in Washington says this is the closest the administration has come in more than a week to suggesting a link between Saddam and al-Qaeda.

Mr Cheney said time was not on the side of the West, adding that US President George W Bush would tell this to the United Nations on Thursday so that the international community could face the challenges together.

Mr Bush has said he wants to see the regime of Saddam Hussein toppled, and he has been seeking international support for a US-led military campaign to achieve this.

'Lies' denounced

Mr Cheney's words followed a call by Iraq for Arabs to strike back at American lives and property if the US launches a military attack against Baghdad.

Dick Cheney
Cheney said time was not on the West's side
Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan - speaking after talks with King Abdullah in the Jordanian capital, Amman - called for Arabs to "confront the material and human interests of the aggressors wherever they are found".

He denounced US and British claims that Iraq was building banned weapons of mass destruction as "lies" and said United Nations inspectors would only be allowed back into Iraq as part of a comprehensive UN solution to the current crisis.

Washington's main backer in its Iraq policy, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, warned on Tuesday that "action will follow" if Iraq does not comply with the United Nations.

Speaking to British trade union leaders, Mr Blair said the Iraqi Government was "unrivalled as the world's worst regime" and must be disarmed.

Arab pledge

Mr Ramadan said Baghdad had the right to defend itself, adding that "all Arab citizens, wherever they might be, have the right to fight by all available means".


The West, and Britain and America in particular, are used to lying

Taha Yassin Ramadan
"This is a legitimate right," he insisted, reminding Iraq's neighbours of the accord reached at an Arab League summit in March that an attack on Iraq would be considered an attack on the region as a whole.

Mr Ramadan delivered a message from President Saddam Hussein to King Abdullah which he said focused on US threats against Iraq.

Mr Ramadan said it was "shameful" that senior US and British officials were using "lies" to build a case against Iraq.

"The West - and Britain and America in particular - are used to lying," he said.

"We don't deny [these reports] or otherwise. We say the truth - that there are no weapons of mass destruction."

.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Steve Kingstone reports from Washington
"Mr Cheney warned of dictators obtaining weapons of mass destruction"
Former Clinton advisor Maurice Sonnenberg
"Saddam has been a threat since the beginning of the Iraq conflict"
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan
"We need to be vigilant"

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10 Sep 02 | Middle East
10 Sep 02 | Politics
10 Sep 02 | Middle East
10 Sep 02 | Business
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