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Iraqi PM: 'Terrorists pouring in'

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Kidnappers threaten to kill two Americans and one British hostage.

U.S., Iraqi accounts of Baghdad fighting are at odds.
start quoteThere were no international terrorists in Iraq until we went in. end quote
-- British ex-foreign secretary Robin Cook
• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide
Saddam Hussein

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Iraq's interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has warned that "terrorists" are flooding into his country from across the Muslim world.

His comments on Monday echoed those of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair who said the day before that Iraq was now the "crucible" in which the future of global terrorism would be determined.

Allawi, who is visiting London, told GMTV at the end of one of the bloodiest weeks since the end of major conflict in Iraq: "It's not a second conflict per se, it's really an international conflict.

"Terrorists are coming and pouring in from various countries into Iraq to try and undermine the situation in Iraq. They're coming from Afghanistan, Pakistan, from Europe, from Morocco, from Syria and so on.

"Iraq is on the front line of fighting these terrorists. And, God forbid, if Iraq is broken or the will of Iraq is broken, then London would be a target, Washington will be a target, Paris will be a target, Cairo will be a target, as we have seen in the past."

But former British foreign secretary Robin Cook, who resigned from the Cabinet over the Iraq war, disputed that argument.

"There were no international terrorists in Iraq until we went in," he told The Times newspaper.

"It was we who gave the perfect conditions in which al Qaeda could thrive."

Allawi made his comments on British TV on Monday ahead of talks with UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon and International Development Secretary Hilary Benn.

Monday's negotiations were expected to focus on what more Britain could do to support the interim Iraqi administration before January's scheduled elections, which Allawi insisted would go ahead despite the upsurge in violence.

Allawi also stressed again that his interim government would not make concessions with kidnappers. He said: "Our principal drive is not to negotiate with hostage-takers and not to negotiate with terrorists, and this is where we find our strength is."

Part of Allawi's agenda in London was to project a positive message from Iraq to the international community; he has previously blamed the media for focusing on the violence without reporting on the progress that was being made.

Monday's discussions came on the second day of the Iraqi premier's visit to London and followed a three-hour meeting with Blair on Sunday.

After their meeting, Allawi said the trial of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein would begin in Iraq as soon as next month.

Appearing on ABC's "This Week," Allawi said: "I think [it will be] October, with some of his supporters who are detained; will be in court. Maybe he will appear in November or December, but definitely in October the whole issue will start -- of the trial." (Full story)

In another interview published on Monday, Allawi said Saddam was depressed and had begged for mercy.

"He is distraught and depressed," Allawi said of Saddam, who is awaiting trial for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

"Saddam and his colleagues are not the giants that the media sometimes talks about. Saddam sent us an oral message in which he begged for mercy. He said that they were working in the public interest and did not mean any harm," Allawi said in an interview with the Arabic al-Hayat newspaper.

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