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CNN LIVE AT DAYBREAK

Reaction From Baghdad to Bush's Speech

Aired October 8, 2002 - 06:03   ET

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

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: In the president's speech last night, he called Saddam Hussein a "homicidal dictator, who is addicted to weapons of mass destruction." How is that playing in Baghdad?
We want to go live there to check that out. Rula Amin is there.

Rula -- what is the reaction from Baghdad?

RULA AMIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, when President Bush made his speech, it was 3:00 in the morning here. So, it's not even mentioned in the Iraqi newspapers, and there is no official reaction to that speech.

However, in the past few days, Iraqi officials have been making their own case against the United States. First, they deny all kinds of charges that they have weapons of mass destruction. They deny any links with al Qaeda or any other terrorist organization.

And actually, Saddam Hussein himself has been making that case. He says that for years, Iraq was pressured, and specifically by the United States, to allow the inspectors back. Now, that Iraq says that the United Nations weapons inspectors can come back to Iraq without conditions, the United States is trying to delay their return, and he says that shows that it's only a pretext, and that the U.S. has other motives.

Now, what the Iraqis are trying to do is they want to make sure that their neighboring Arab countries, Muslim countries, are perceiving this threat to attack Iraq as a threat to all of the Arab nations and the Islamic world. So, Iraq has been sending its envoys to different Arab countries. Iraq's deputy prime minister is in Damascus. He is due to go to Beirut to have talks with officials there.

The Iraqis are trying hard to rally every support they can get, whether it's from Arab countries, Muslim countries, or countries who are members of the Security Council, because they are trying hard to avert this war. They say, they don't wish to have a war here -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Could it be that the president's harsh words against Saddam Hussein and Iraq are actually pushing Saddam Hussein to allow truly unfettered access?

AMIN: Well, Saddam Hussein himself said a couple of days ago that he did yield to diplomatic pressure, he says, to allow the inspectors back to avert war. So, the Iraqis are not making it a secret. They are saying they don't want to have a war, because they know the consequences are going to be bad. But if there is a war, they warn, they are going to fight back, and they say, they will teach the Americans -- aggressors, they term, they way they describe them -- a very unprecedented lesson -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right, Rula Amin reporting live from Baghdad, thank you very much.

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