Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said on Tuesday he has felt kindness toward the American people, as a US-led war on his country looms large.
"We have esteem, respect and kindness to all the peoples, whether they are American or not," Saddam said at a gathering marking the annual Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice), quoted by official media.
On the occasion, the Iraqi strongman also criticized Arab armiesfor standing idle at a time when the Palestinian territories are still occupied by Israel.
"What is the value of armies if they do not defend the nation. This is a humiliation for our armies to say that we can not protectthe Palestinian territories," he said.
On Monday, Saddam said chief UN arms inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei face an "important test" as they are preparing updated reports on Iraq's disarmament to the UN Security Council.
Blix, chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), and ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), capped their visit to Iraq Monday morning with reported "good progress" in Iraq's cooperation.
Speaking to reporters after two days of talks on Sunday, Blix said he hoped for "a beginning" of better cooperation between Baghdad and UN inspectors.
ElBaradei said he was seeing the beginning of "change" in Bagdad's attitude toward the UN inspections in Iraq.
Blix and ElBaradei are expected to deliver their updated reportsto the UN Security Council on Feb. 14, the date analysts term as a crucial moment for peace or war.
A US-led war on Iraq looms large as the United States has stepped up its military buildup in the Gulf region.