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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Interview With Amre Moussa

Aired March 20, 2003 - 12:20   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The head of the Arab League says last night's attack on Iraq marked, in his words, a very sad day for all Arabs. But strongly divided Arab governments have also come under criticism for failing to do more to avert war.
Joining us now from Cairo is the Arab League Secretary-General, Amre Moussa. Mr. Moussa previously served as Egypt's Foreign Minister and as Country's Representative to the United Nations.

Ambassador Moussa, thanks very much for joining us. How deeply divided -- how deeply split is the Arab world right now?

AMRE MOUSSA, ARAB LEAGUE SECRETARY-GENERAL: Well, it's not a question of being divided. It's being all concerned about the events and the unfolding confrontation, so much that we can avoid the repercussions of war and bloodshed. Very much is at stake, and we wish that our region be rid of the serious consequences of a prolonged war or even a confrontation between the U.S. and Iraq or the -- especially in the light of the extreme anger and agitation prevailing in the region, as you know very much.

BLITZER: Ambassador Moussa, you have seen Saddam Hussein on television many times. You've heard him. You obviously are a native Arabic speaker. The videotape that we saw an hour and half or so after the U.S. Tomahawk cruise missiles struck Baghdad -- was that in your opinion, Saddam Hussein?

MOUSSA: Well, I'm sorry, I haven't seen that. I heard it over the news -- about it over the news, but I have not. Therefore, I cannot judge.

BLITZER: The possibility, as the King Of Bahrain proposed only 24 hours ago, even at this late moment for Saddam Hussein to seek exile -- to receive exile in Bahrain or somewhere else perhaps in the Arab world -- is that at all realistic, given what you know right now?

MOUSSA: I believe right now we have moved from a place to another, and, therefore, the -- should really concentrate on stopping the war and seizing fire and going back to our business and the Security Council resolution. And all about the message has reached everybody and we have to work together in order to fully implement the Security Council resolution and give us time, I believe we can give ourselves peace.

BLITZER: So are you calling -- on behalf of the Arab League -- calling on President Bush to stop this looming war?

MOUSSA: I really am not only myself, but all Arabs would vote in favor of putting an end -- immediate end to the military option; and giving Security Council time and nations of this region time; and all nations around the world work together in order to achieve goals that have been underlined in Security Council resolutions, in Security Council debates, in all other organizations' debates, including the Arab League and including the European Union.

War is a very, very serious proposition that repercussions are uncontrollable, especially in a region like the Middle East, where things are already going from bad to worse, bearing in mind the situation in the occupied territories and the deterioration in the Arab-Israeli conflict. This is a very, very serious proposition -- don't minimize at all the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of the Palestinian -- of the failure of the Palestinian issue (UNINTELLIGIBLE) failure on the Palestinian issue.

So (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a very dangerous proposition...

BLITZER: Amre Moussa, the secretary-general...

MOUSSA: I'm sorry?

BLITZER: Yes, I was going to say, Mr. Secretary-General, the secretary-general of the Arab League, Amre Moussa, the former representative to the United Nations. Unfortunately, we have to leave it there. I want to apologize a little bit -- we had some technical problems, but certainly the main points of what you had to say got through to our viewers in the United States and indeed around the world. Amre Moussa, thank you very much.

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