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Saddam: U.S. threats aimed at Arab world

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein  

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi President Saddam Hussein repeated Tuesday that American threats against Iraq are directed not just against his country but at the entire Arab world.

He made the comments during a meeting with the Qatari foreign minister, and they were reported a day after Vice President Dick Cheney said the United States can't wait until Iraq obtains nuclear weapons before taking action against Saddam's regime.

Saddam's comments -- reported by a news anchor on Iraqi TV -- quoted him as saying, "American threats target not only Iraq, but the whole Arab nation as well."

Also on Tuesday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak reiterated his country's opposition to a possible attack on Iraq.

"We have reservations on Iraq, but that doesn't justify a strike killing civilians," Mubarak told students in Alexandria, Egypt. "I said to the U.S. administration, 'If you harm the Iraqi people while the Palestinians are still suffering, it would only fuel the anger of the Arabs.' No leader in the Arab world would be able to stop people expressing anger at such a move."

Saddam also reportedly spoke out on the embargo imposed by the United Nations against his nation.

"Iraq has met all its obligations which were imposed on it under Security Council resolutions. But the Security Council for its part has not complied with these commitments included in its resolutions, especially respecting Iraq and its independence and sovereignty and lifting the unjust embargo," Saddam was quoted as saying.

Vice President Dick Cheney
Vice President Dick Cheney  

The news anchor said Saddam "stressed that the solution, if there is any real desire to find a solution, should be based on international legitimacy."

Cheney said the Iraqi leader has broken every weapons-related agreement he made with the United Nations after Iraq was defeated in the Persian Gulf War, failed to destroy chemical and biological weapons, and continued to aggressively seek nuclear capabilities. (Full story)

After Iraq refused to cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors seeking to certify that the nation had no weapons of mass destruction, the inspectors left in late 1998, and have never returned.

Meanwhile, coalition forces Tuesday fired on two Iraqi military sites, according to coalition officials.

In the northern no-fly zone, coalition forces fired on an Iraqi radar site near Mosul, according to U.S. European Command. The attack occurred after Iraqi forces threatened coalition aircraft by illuminating them with a radar system, the command said. All coalition aircraft left the area safely.

In the southern zone, coalition aircraft used precision-guided weapons to target an Iraqi air defense command and control facility near An Nukhayb, about 120 miles southwest of Baghdad, according to officials at the U.S. Central Command. The coalition response came after Iraqi forces had fired anti-aircraft artillery at a patrol over the southern no-fly zone, the officials said.

The coalition says strikes in the no-fly zones are self-defense measures. There was no immediate reaction from Iraq to the attacks.

-- CNN's James Martone contributed to this report




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