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Tuesday, 16 July, 2002, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
Saddam courts Kuwait
Support for Saddam Hussein in Baghdad
Iraq says the US is the enemy of all Arabs
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has said he wants to "turn a new page" in relations with other Arab countries, and in particular Iraq's former Gulf War enemy Kuwait.

Speaking in a rare interview with Qatar's Al-Sharq newspaper, which also appeared in newspapers across the Arab world, the Iraqi leader accused the US of blocking a rapprochement with Kuwait.

Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein says cases of missing people can be investigated

"We have said more than once that we want to turn a new page in the history of our inter-Arab relations," he said.

"Each time we try to improve relations with Kuwait, the forces of evil hurry to block such a rapprochement."

Saddam Hussein said that Iraq had "applied ... (and) fulfilled all UN resolutions relating to Kuwait".

Iraq was not the only US target, he said, the "entire Arab nation" was too.

Hundreds missing

Asked about the fate of hundreds of people reported missing from Kuwait since the 1991 Gulf War, the Iraqi president said the issue had to be settled "through research and investigations, in good faith and far from outside interference".

Kuwait maintains that 605 Kuwaiti and other nationals disappeared during the Iraqi occupation of the emirate from August 1990 to February 1991.

US base in Kuwait
The US still has bases in Kuwait
"We had some members of the Kuwaiti ruling family, Kuwaiti army officers and members of other Kuwaiti families, whom we asked if they wanted to stay in Iraq or return to Kuwait.

"They chose to return and went back with all the respect and honour they deserved," Saddam said.

"We also confiscated a quantity of gold from the central bank with an estimated value of $500m. We have given that back completely," he said. "Iraqi people are not thieves."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


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16 Jul 02 | Middle East
11 Jul 02 | Politics
10 Jun 02 | Middle East
17 Jun 02 | Americas
17 Jun 02 | Middle East
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