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April 1, 2003
 
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Saudi Prince: Saddam Should Step Down
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Says Saddam Should Make Sacrifice: Step Down to End War

The Associated Press


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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia April 1

The Saudi foreign minister said Tuesday that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein should make the sacrifice of stepping down if it would end the war.

"If the only thing remaining to resolve the situation in Iraq is a sacrifice from President Saddam Hussein and since he's asking all Iraqis to sacrifice their lives for their country, then the least that can be expected is that he would do the same and sacrifice for his country," Prince Saud said.

Saud said he was not calling on or urging Saddam to step down. But asked whether it was too late for such a move from the Iraqi leader, who has pledged never to resign, said: "Why should it be too late?"

Saud's remarks appeared to be a signal to Saddam that the exile option is still open.

In a joint interview before the war started with the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat daily newspaper and Lebanon's al-Mustaqbal satellite television, Saud was quoted as saying that the Iraqi crisis could have been resolved had Saddam accepted a proposal by the United Arab Emirates urging him to step down and go into exile. The prince's remarks then were the closest Saudi Arabia had come to endorsing the idea.

Saud said a U.S. "military occupation" of Iraq would not resolve the Iraq conflict and called for a cease-fire to allow diplomacy to work.

"Conflict is not really the best way to resolve disputes," said Saud. "Let us stop it now before hatred grips our hearts and our souls."

He said one of the reasons the kingdom is against the war "is because wars tend to spread and especially wars in areas that have chronic problems like the Middle East."

"We are afraid of the spread of war," said Saud.

Saud also lashed out at unnamed U.S. "prognosticators and advisers who have covered the wave lengths of all media stations" for giving the impression that Washington intends to change the geopolitical map in the region, feeding Arab fears that Iraq is the first U.S. step toward controlling the area.

Saud, a graduate of Princeton University, said it is "not within the character of the United States, at least not the United States that I know," to do that, adding that U.S. President George W. Bush and his government are "talking a different language."

"This is creating great confusion that exists in the Arab world about the motives of the United States," added Saud. "I think and this country thinks, as a friend of the United States, that this image must change and the true nature of the American people should emerge from this fog that was created by these few individuals."

Saud said his country will work hard to maintain the relations the kingdom has had with the United States for more than six decades, saying "it's not something easy to dispense with this friendship."

Saud said "there was no permission asked and no permission given for overflying" Tomahawk cruise missiles through Saudi airspace. Four of the missiles that have missed their targets on their flight paths to Iraq have landed in Saudi Arabia. The U.S. military has agreed to temporarily suspend Tomahawk launches from the eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea.

Saudi Arabia, fearful of an internal, Muslim extremist backlash, has been quiet about its support for the U.S. military strikes on Iraq. In the 1991 Gulf War, the use of Saudi territory by U.S. troops as a launch pad against Iraq produced a cause for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden to rally militants.

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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