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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Iraqi Foreign Minister Holds Press Conference

Aired March 31, 2003 - 06:02   ET

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

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: To Iraq quickly. Naji Sabri is now talking, the Iraqi foreign minister -- let's listen.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

NAJI SABRI, IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): ... military alike in all fronts, the village people, the tribesmen, the civilians, the members of the party, the units of the armed forces. Those painful strikes and destructive strikes that changed those desperate dreams of those invaders and spread fear in their ranks, and hundreds of them fell killed and many were captured. And the soldiers, the American and British, fled scared, running away from our troops.

And this bravery, this Iraqi -- Arab-Iraqi-Islamic bravery spreads fear and confusion in the leadership of those aggressors, and now you see that that leadership is contradicting itself in their statements and in their announcements. And the statements of that leadership is subject of laughter in the world based on what they -- based on the lies and claims that were belied by the Iraqi soldiers on the battlefield, and the Iraqis proved their lies.

Now, the fact that is present on the ground is their retreat and defeat of the aggressors, and victory for the people and army of Iraq. And we are determined, with God's help, to give the ultimate defeat to those aggressors.

And with each day America and Britain went into a quagmire, and the losses increased for those two outlaws, those evil, those two evil governments that are succumbing to the orders of the Zionists of the companies that are after the resources of Iraq, the losses increase and they went further and further in the quagmire of defeat.

They only have one chance, which is to withdraw quickly, early withdrawal. Today -- if they withdraw today it is better than tomorrow, and that will save them more losses both in human casualties and material casualties. We are determined to inflict the maximum losses, and we are determined to expel them outside of our borders and inflicting defeat on them, and victory is coming, God willing.

The aggressors -- the forces have nothing but to surrender to our forces. If they want to save their souls, they have to surrender to our forces. And we will treat those who surrender to our forces in accordance to our Arabic and Islamic values, and in accordance to our commitment to the Geneva Convention and the human international law.

Those who follow the evil whisper of their leadership, they have no future and they have no hope to rescue themselves from the incinerator that we're fixing for those aggressors on all fronts. The withdrawal of those aggressive forces will avert a lot of losses. If they go further in the aggression, they will increase their losses, and the rift between them and the Arab and Muslims will be bigger and they will increase in the hatred and the feelings of hatred between them and the Muslims and Arabs and all of the people of the world.

And their interests will be harmed and they will have a lot of losses on the level of interest -- on their interests.

There are some who say that the Americans and British are making up for their losses on the front by attacking civilians and civilian installations and facilities more, they are destroying, and you hear about those cowardly strikes on civilian quarters all over Iraq.

But those cowardly acts will not give them but more rebuke and more losses, especially in front of the international public opinion, and will increase in the rift between them and the Arabs and Muslims, and will create burdens, heavy burdens, for them. And they will come down from the status that they were dreaming of being a super power. They will no longer be super power after America became an outlaw with the admission of the United Nations and all of the international community.

Therefore, we say another time, and stress here that America and Britain, they have no choice but to withdraw and stop their aggression and immediately withdraw from our land. Otherwise, their presence, the presence of their forces on our land will expose them to more losses, grave losses, and will determine with the help of God to defeat this force, no matter how long the time is.

They will not leave our land safe and sound if they continue to be stubborn in their aggression. We will confront them with all what we have, depending and relying on God almighty. And on the will of our people and leadership, we will destroy those forces and no one will be safe except those who surrender to us on the battle front.

I am ready to answer any of your questions.

Yes.

QUESTION (through translator): And, Mr. Minister, the American administration has, they have increased their tone against Syria. What is your position, and where do you put the position of the Arabs in the confrontation between Iraq and their aggressor?

SABRI (through translator): Syria responded to those claims and accusations. The Arab position, the popular position is excellent. The Arab people all over the Arab world, there was no exception, is very angry over this aggression and is demanding the Arab government to give them -- to give the people the chance to participate in defeating this aggression. And asking -- demanding from the Arab government to take all measures to support -- to give the needed support to Iraq in confronting this aggression. The popular position is excellent in the Arab world. But the official position -- we hope that this official position comes close to the popular position and the legitimacy of the official position is gains (ph) when it is closer to the popular position. There are meetings, there are resolutions that stated or demanded giving support and solidarity to Iraq and to refrain from participation into aggression against Iraq. There are people who are participating in stabbing Iraq from -- in the back, and they will be getting the judgements from their people after they tarnish the reputation of their country with humility. Those before the -- before history and the Arab nation they are to be held accountable for this betrayal.

And what is being requested by the popular -- populous in the Arab world is a position by the government to support Iraq. You know that Iraq has now -- has never let down -- has never let down any Arab country from the position of Iraq. Any country that had suffered from anything in the past Iraq had come forward and helped. They did not wait for a resolution from the United Nations or the Arab League or a justification from here or a justification from there to support our brethren in the Arab countries.

Therefore, the Arab people are waiting there -- for their governments to take -- to return some of that debt to Iraq, Iraq that was present in all the battles of the Arab world against the Zionist aggressor ready with money and men and weapons. And Iraq was present against all the calamities that afflicted the Arab world.

QUESTION (through translator): Can you tell us -- can you tell us something in English. Twelve year -- 12 days have passed on the war that is being waged against Iraq by the British and the Americans. And as you know, the invaders, the British and the American invaders, they led themselves into this quagmire. They were hope -- they wished something for Iraq as invaders, as colonial powers. They wanted to divide Iraq, to divide the -- to divide the public opinion in Iraq. Those wishes, wishes of the invaders, the British and the American, did fell on deaf ears. So the British worked hard to apply this golden rule of the British colonization in Iraq.

SABRI (through translator): Compliment (ph) this war because Iraq is one people. Iraq cannot be divided into clans and communities and ethnic groups and religious groups. This was the rule. This was the desire of British colonialists. They left this legacy to their American friends or allies who believed in to this illusion and came to Iraq and planned their colonial war campaign against Iraq in accordance with this illusion. And so they fell into a trap of their own made by their own hands. They faced unified people, one body, a single body. The leader -- the leadership, the government and the people are a unified body in this country, unified entity, fighting entity fighting against their war colonial or colonial war against our country.

And I applied to a question by the gentlemen from Monscarlo Radio (ph) about the Arab official policy. And I say the Arab popular position is excellent and the degree of the legitimacy of the Arab official position, government position is how much this position gets closer to the Arab popular position. Now -- yes.

QUESTION (through translator): Americans are talking about fighting around (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and Nasiriya today. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the Iraqis (UNINTELLIGIBLE) what is happening around...

SABRI (through translator): The Americans are talking a lot of lies and fabrication because lying is the golden rule of the American administration. You can ask about the military details to the spokesmen who were up here today in front of you, but you have to put a question mark along any statement said by these liars. They have been lying to their people, they have been lying to the world public opinion and now they fell victim to their lies.

Yes -- man (ph).

QUESTION (through translator): Are you trying any initiatives on the diplomatic front?

SABRI (through translator): The Non-Aligned Movement is moving now to hold a session for the General Assembly. The Arab Group is moving also to hold a session to the General Assembly, first to go to the Security Council asking for a resolution to stop this aggression and immediately and to withdrawal all invading forces outside the Iraqi borders. We are part of the Arab Group and we are part of the Non-Aligned Group.

(UNINTELLIGIBLE).

QUESTION (through translator): (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

SABRI (through translator): Maybe objectivity of the Security Council, especially because they did not take -- they have not taken any resolution against this war. This Security Council was shackled by two countries, America and Britain, and it was pushed to issue a resolution, a weak resolution that is -- that is -- that brings about irony while the Zionist American and British aggressive forces throw the fire against people -- own Iraqi people.

Security Council is talking about food. Who is going to receive the food? Are they the children that were killed in the Shallar (ph), the children that were killed by those -- by those cruel and brutal aggressors that are coming out of the caves of the middle ages? First, the aggression has to stop. The aggression against the life of the people is the first violation of the human rights. Before you give the human being food, give him security and safety and take away the shadow of death that is over that human being.

These crimes are the worst of crimes against humanity. We are working through those systems, the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement and the Islamic Organization Conference. We hope that the United Nations

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