Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Saturday, April 26, 2003

Bush Believes 'Decapitation' Successful; More Aid for Iraq

With the Iraq war coming to an end, US President George W. Bush says he more and more believes the Air Forces' "decapitation" action against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein at the beginning of the war was successful, while the international community has piled up more humanitarian aid for the war-torn Gulf state.


With the Iraq war coming to an end, US President George W. Bush says he more and more believes the Air Forces' "decapitation" action against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein at the beginning of the war was successful, while the international community has piled up more humanitarian aid for the war-torn Gulf state.

Bush speculated on Thursday that Saddam Hussein may have been killed in the surprise air strikes that started the war.

"The people will wonder if Saddam Hussein is dead or not. There's some evidence that suggests he might be," said Bush. "We're trying to, of course, verify it before there's any declaration."

Bush said the agent in Baghdad who pinpointed a compound where he believed the Iraqi leader was meeting with top aides "felt like we got Saddam" in the March 19 bombardment using US "stealth" aircraft and cruise missiles.

"The person that helped direct the attacks believes that Saddam, at very minimum, was severely wounded," the American leader told NBC television in his first exclusive interview since the war began.

Now, a month later, with Saddam dead or on the run and US-led forces occupying Iraq, Bush said that the task of putting Iraqis in charge of their country may take two years: "It could. Or less.Who knows?"

The US military in Kuwait said Friday that about 3,000 troops from the US 24th Expeditionary Unit, which moved into Iraq shortly after the US-led coalition forces launched war against Iraq on March 20, would leave Kuwait for the United States in about a week.

The Cable News Network (CNN) television reported Friday that US forces in Iraq captured former Iraqi spy chief, Farouk Hijazi, near the Iraqi border with Syria on Thursday in another major bust following the downfall of Saddam Hussein on April 9.

The detention was broadcast a day after former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz surrendered himself to US forces.

Bush warned Iran not to interfere in Iraq's internal affairs, but cooperate with the United States. He also urged France not to form an alliance against the United States, Britain, Spain and other new European democratic states by using its status in Europe.

Meanwhile, a Downing Street spokesman told Xinhua on Friday that British Prime Minister Tony Blair was expected to fly to Moscow on Tuesday for talks on Iraq with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The coming visit of Blair, the staunchest US ally in the war with Iraq, was aimed at swaying Putin over the lifting of United Nations sanctions on Iraq, said the Guardian newspaper on Friday.

Bush urged the United Nations last week to lift its sweeping sanctions on Iraq, insisting that the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was already gone.

However, Russia and France expressed their opposition to "automatically" lifting sanctions on Iraq just because of regime change in Iraq, as suggested by Bush.

Moscow and Paris maintained that it should be the UN Security Council to decide on whether and how to remove the sanctions.

Putin said he would not allow sanctions to be lifted until chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix and his UN weapons inspectionteam were allowed to return in Iraq.

The Washington Post reported Friday that the United States decided to introduce next week a UN Security Council resolution, which is designed to lift the sanctions imposed on Iraq for more than a decade and would limit the involvement of the United Nations in post-war Iraq to a consultative role.

The United States expected that the debate and consultations within the United Nations on the resolution will take several weeks, the paper said.

As for aid to postwar Iraq, the European Union announced Friday that the union will send a humanitarian mission to Baghdad early next week to assess the present situation in Iraq, deliver aid goods and study the possibility of establishing an EU office for aid in Baghdad.

The mission will comprise about 10 people from the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), EU spokesman Diego deOjeda said.

"Two batches of people would arrive at different times next week. The first group would depart for Baghdad early next week," he said.

The mission will include meetings with operational partners such as the United Nations, the International Red Cross and European non-governmental organizations and visits to projects funded by ECHO, which has provided 157 million euros (172 million US. dollars) in humanitarian aid to Iraqis over the last decade.

He said the team would also be making arrangements for the visit by European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Poul Nielson to the region in early May.

A Kuwaiti air force C-130 plane carrying relief material left Friday for Iraq's Baghdad International Airport, the official Kuwait News Agency reported.

An official at the Kuwaiti Red Crescent Society (KRCS) said that the humanitarian aid, the first Kuwaiti batch sent to Iraq via air, consisted of 10 tons of food and other materials.

A number of volunteers from the KRCS were on board the plane. They will help distribute the supplies to Iraqi people in coordination with the Iraqi Red Crescent Society.

In another development, the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Friday summoned US Ambassador to Turkey Robert Pearson to express uneasiness over American retired general Jay Garner's inappropriate remarks on northern Iraq.

Foreign Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ali Tuygan conveyed Turkey's uneasiness about a statement by Garner, who is in charge of restoring services in Iraq, alleging that the oil-rich city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq was a Kurdish city.

After he left the Foreign Ministry, Pearson said that the United States declared on many occasions that all the cities of Iraq belonged to the Iraqi people. The attitude of the United States about this issue was clear and "our attitude will continue to be clear," he said.

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