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Saddam says sorry to Kuwait for invasion

Baghdad, Dec. 7 (Reuters): Iraqi President Saddam Hussein apologised to the Kuwaiti people today for his 1990-1991 occupation and urged them to struggle against foreign armies.

“We apologise to God for any deed that angered him in the past, which we might not have known of and is blamed on us, and on this basis we also apologise to you,” a letter from Saddam to the Kuwaiti people read out on Iraqi state television said.

In an apparent reference to the US military presence in Kuwait, the statement read by information minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf urged the Kuwaiti people to join Iraq in resisting the occupation of foreign forces.

“Why will not the faithful, the devoted and the holy warriors in Kuwait meet with their counterparts in Iraq under the blanket of their creator, instead of under the blanket of London or Washington and the Zionist entity, to discuss their matters on top of which is the jihad (holy struggle) against the occupation of infidel armies,” the statement said.

The letter was read on Iraqi television as Baghdad handed a list of its weapons programmes to UN inspectors, as demanded in a UN Security Council resolution last month.

The US alleges Baghdad has biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programmes in violation of UN agreements reached after the 1991 Gulf War when a coalition led by Washington forced invading Iraqi troops out of Kuwait. Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.

Weapons dossier

Iraq showed international journalists a massive dossier on its arms programmes today and declared it had no weapons of mass destruction.

Baghdad unveiled the document shortly before it was due to hand it over to UN weapons inspectors. The dossier, which could spell the difference between war and peace, was shown to reporters at the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate in central Baghdad.

It was contained in 11,807 pages, 352 pages of supplements and CD-ROMs with a total 529 megabytes of data, according to a sign at the directorate headquarters.

The weapons declaration comes a month after a tough UN resolution gave Baghdad a chance to disarm or face possible US-led military action.

Hussam Mohammed Amin, head of the directorate, told a news conference the documents would be handed to UN inspectors in the next few hours.

“We declared that Iraq is empty of weapons of mass destruction. I reiterate Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction. This declaration has some activities that are dual-use,” Amin told reporters, referring to technology which has both peaceful and military applications.

“If the US has minimum levels of fairness and bravery it should accept the report,” Amin said. He gave no further details.

The UN resolution had given Baghdad a deadline till tomorrow to provide a full account of any past and current programmes involving biological, chemical or nuclear weapons.

The main glass door to the directorate headquarters was shattered as around 100 foreign journalists surged into the building to see the declaration.

The documents, seen by a Reuters journalist, were in about two dozen files placed on a table next to golden CD-ROMs. Some were entitled “Currently Accurate, Full and Complete Declaration”.

Most of the papers appeared to be in English with some in Arabic. Reporters were not shown the contents.

US will take time

The United States will take “some time” to thoroughly evaluate Iraq’s arms declaration and judge whether Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was meeting UN disarmament demands, US President George W. Bush said today.

The document will be flown to New York for evaluation by Security Council member countries, including the US.

“We will judge the declaration’s honesty and completeness only after we have thoroughly examined it, and that will take some time,” Bush said in his weekly radio address.

“The declaration must be credible and accurate and complete, or the Iraqi dictator will have demonstrated to the world that once again he has chosen not to change his behaviour.”

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