Bush: Will use all means to oust Hussein
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush said Monday his administration would use "all the tools at our disposal" to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
"I do firmly believe that the world will be safer and more peaceful if there's a regime change in that government," Bush said during a wide-ranging news conference at the White House.
Animosity between the United States and Iraq reached its peak during the presidency of Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, when Washington led the military coalition that drove the Iraqi army out of Kuwait during the 1991 Gulf War.
During two days of talks in Vienna, Austria, last week, the Iraqi government and the United Nations failed to reach agreement on easing the sanctions imposed against Iraq after the war and on the return of U.N. weapons inspectors. The last inspection team left Iraq in 1998.
The Iraqi delegation also wanted assurance that the United States would not launch a military attack.
Baghdad did not get that assurance from the U.N. last week, nor from Bush on Monday.
"I'm involved in the military plan, diplomatic planning, financial planning," Bush said, noting it was the "stated policy of this government to have a regime change."
He refused to comment on reports over the weekend on the status of the White House's plan to depose of Hussein.
"I actually didn't read the whole story," he said. "But people shouldn't speculate about the desire of the government to have a regime change. And there's different ways to do it."
The U.S. State Department said Monday it supports the objectives of a meeting of Iraqi opposition groups later this week in London.
"We hope the conference helps the Iraqi community move closer to a goal of a better future for the Iraqi people after Saddam Hussein," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.
The United States was not financially supporting the conference but would send a diplomat to the meetings, Boucher said.
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