Iraq `capable' of striking Kuwait, says Saddam

 

President Saddam Hussein warned yesterday that Iraq was "capable" of attacking bases in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia used in US-British air strikes and said leaders of the two Gulf nations were implicated in the war on Baghdad.

Meanwhile in London a newspaper citing Foreign Office sources said Russia had signed a deal to help Baghdad upgrade its anti-aircraft defences in a blatant breach of the UN arms embargo against Iraq. Russia denied the report.

"With God's help and the support of the Arab world as well as patriots in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, we are capable of attacking the bases which are a departure point for aggressions" against us, Mr Saddam said in a statement following a meeting here with senior advisers.

Meanwhile an official Iraqi newspaper protested yesterday over the inclusion of "spies for the United States" in a new 20-member UN disarmament panel.

While recalling Iraq has in any case dismissed all three UN panels set up to review ties with Baghdad, Al-Jumhuriya condemned the inclusion in the disarmament board of "supposed experts who are among the best spies for the United States."

Meanwhile Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Tariq Aziz, came to Turkey yesterday in an attempt to persuade Ankara to stop allowing US and British warplanes to use its bases to patrol no-fly zones.

The visit has met with unease on the part of the United States, which relies on the bases to carry out surveillance flights, and comes at a time of tension between Turkey and Iraq over the presence of the US and British planes.

The Turkish Foreign Minister, Mr Ismail Cem, expressed hope that Mr Aziz's visit would help improve bilateral relations, but said it would not change Ankara's policy on Iraq.