Washington/Baghdad, Jan. 12 (Reuters): The US ordered 62,000 more troops to the Gulf during the weekend, despite signs of European reluctance to rush to war with Iraq.
As the military build-up went ahead, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said today only Iraq’s neighbours could prevent the US from declaring war on Baghdad.
Sources said British Prime Minister Tony Blair would meet US President George W. Bush soon after UN arms inspectors present a key report on January 27 on Iraq’s compliance with their searches for weapons of mass destruction.
The inspectors visited at least eight sites in Iraq today, hunting for banned nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, an Iraqi official said, as Baghdad again accused them of spying.
“Inspection teams are here and our cooperation with them is continuing, but if America wants to look for a pretext for the aggression, only the countries of the region can prevent it,” Saddam was quoted by Iraqi state television as saying during a meeting with Turkish trade minister Kursad Tuzmen.
Tuzmen was carrying a letter from Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul urging Iraq to comply with UN resolutions to ward off military action. “With clarity, seriousness and brotherly dialogue we can reach the best solutions in the field of bilateral cooperation,” Saddam said.