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Last Updated:  Thursday, 10 April, 2003, 16:44 GMT 17:44 UK
Coalition leaders address Iraq
George W Bush and Tony Blair at Hillsborough
The address will be the first broadcast on Freedom TV
US President George W Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair have issued a TV message to Iraqis, telling them that the rule of the Saddam Hussein regime is coming to an end.

"American and coalition forces are now operating inside Baghdad - and we will not stop until Saddam's corrupt gang is gone," says Mr Bush in his address.

The two messages, aired on Thursday, are the first broadcast of Freedom TV - a new channel transmitted from a US transport plane operating above Iraq.

The addresses, which were recorded when the two leaders met in Belfast this week, were shown with Arabic subtitles.

'Friends and liberators'

Both Mr Blair and Mr Bush stress that the US and UK forces do not aim to occupy Iraq.

Your country will no longer be held captive to the will of a cruel dictator
George W Bush
"Our enemy is Saddam and his regime, not the Iraqi people," Mr Blair says.

"Our forces are friends and liberators of the Iraqi people, not your conquerors. They will not stay a day longer than is necessary".

Mr Bush promises humanitarian aid and "a peaceful and representative government that protects the rights of all citizens".

"In the new era that is coming to Iraq, your country will no longer be held captive to the will of a cruel dictator," he says.

"You will be free to build a better life, instead of building more palaces for Saddam and his sons, free to pursue economic prosperity without the hardship of economic sanctions, free to travel and speak your mind, free to join in the political affairs of Iraq."

Change of tune

Freedom TV was due to begin broadcasting on the former frequency of Iraqi state television.

Coalition forces were planning to air five hours of programming in Arabic, including news, public information announcements about water supplies and aid deliveries, and arts features.

Iraqi state television regularly featured patriotic songs and addresses by Saddam Hussein or other senior regime figures.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's James Robbins
"Anything goes when you are trying to convince bewildered people that something far, far better than Saddam beckons"



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