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Aziz dispels defection rumor

Aziz: war would be an
Aziz: war would be an "act of colonization."

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Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz stood before reporters in Baghdad to quiet rumors that he had either been shot or had asked for political asylum (March 19)
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz stood before reporters in Baghdad Wednesday to quiet rumors that he had either been shot or had asked for political asylum.

"This is one of the easiest rumors to deny," said Aziz, standing before a podium topped with microphones.

Uncontested reports had been floating around Baghdad Wednesday that Aziz had fled the country the day before the U.S.-set deadline for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to step down or face an attack.

Aziz blamed the rumors on the U.S.-led coalition. He said people should expect more of the same in the days and months ahead.

"We would like to warn you against cheap psychological rumors," Aziz said. "Don't believe them."

Aziz took a few questions before leaving. He said it is "abundantly clear" that there is no chance for a political solution to solve the crisis in Iraq.

He restated Iraq's insistence that it is ready for war, and that a United States decision to go to war with Iraq would be an "act of colonization, an imperial and unjust aggression against the Middle East" and "not an act of peace."

Aziz also said Bush's demand Monday night that Saddam leave Iraq was an "impossible" request.

He called a U.S. request that Iraqi soldiers and citizens allow coalition forces into Iraq uncontested is "unjust" and gives "an example of the mentality of such an administration. "They have power but no brains."


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