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Sunday, 8 December, 2002, 11:26 GMT
Kuwait scorns Iraqi leader's 'apology'
Kuwaiti men watch TV broadcast of Saddam statement
Kuwaitis are still bitter about the Iraqi occupation
Kuwait has denounced a statement by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in which he made a qualified apology for Iraq's 1990 invasion of the oil-rich Gulf emirate.

The Kuwaiti Information Minister, Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahd al-Sabah, said the message was "an unveiled attempt to create a rift in the united ranks of the Kuwaiti people and leadership".

Saddam Hussein should confirm his peaceful intentions in words and deeds by implementing all UN Security Council resolutions

Sheikh Ahmad
"The speech contained incitement and encouragement of terrorist acts which the whole world has rejected and condemned," Sheikh Ahmad told the Kuwaiti News Agency (Kuna).

In the televised statement, read out by Iraqi Information Minister Mohamed Said Sahaf on Saturday, Saddam Hussein said both Iraq and Kuwait had been victims of the Gulf War in 1991.

He urged the Kuwaiti people to support Baghdad against "infidel forces" and said they should rise up against "treason".

Praise for militants

Sheikh Ahmad said Saddam Hussein sought to "encourage acts of terrorism which the whole world deplores" - an apparent reference to the Iraqi leader's praise for Kuwaiti militants who recently attacked US troops in the emirate.

We apologise to God for any deed that angered him in the past, which we might not have known of and is blamed on us, and on this basis we also apologise to you

Saddam Hussein

"Instead of deliberately ignoring the strong bonds tying the Kuwaiti leadership and people, Saddam Hussein should confirm his peaceful intentions in words and deeds by implementing all UN Security Council resolutions pertaining to the invasion of Kuwait," Sheikh Ahmad said.

BBC regional analyst David Bamford says Saddam Hussein may now believe that, despite the resumption of UN weapons inspections, there will be another war with the United States sooner or later, and this is his effort to persuade the Arab world to resist.

US troops on exercise in Kuwaiti desert
The US has sent more forces to Kuwait
Referring to the presence of the US troops, Saddam Hussein said Kuwait was under "direct foreign military occupation" and called on Kuwaitis to join efforts to expel them.

Sheikh Ahmad said Saddam Hussein's message was like the "political and media campaigns" waged by Iraq in the run-up to its August 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

The Kuwaiti newspaper al-Watan denounced the speech as "farcical," saying "Saddam changes colour, but not his nature".

Another Kuwaiti paper, al-Qabas, said the Iraqi leader "is a time bomb that threatens international peace".

"He did not apologise for the (Iraqi) occupation. The only apology actually revealed his hostile intentions against Kuwait," it said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Excerpt from Saddam Hussein's statement
"Brothers in Kuwait, we wish you to live free of foreign domination"
Former US ambassador to Kuwait, Nat Howell
"It was not a very sincere apology"

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08 Dec 02 | Media reports
07 Dec 02 | Middle East
08 Nov 02 | Country profiles
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