- The Washington Times - Friday, August 30, 2002

From combined dispatches

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, whose alliance with the U.S.-led campaign on terrorism was crucial to the war in Afghanistan, has warned that an American attack on Iraq would cause more turmoil in the Muslim world.

"We have got too much on our hands here in this region to get involved in anything else, especially when one is very conscious that this shall have very negative repercussions in the Islamic world," he told the British Broadcasting Corp.

Gen. Musharraf's remarks came as leaders throughout the Muslim world kept up pressure on Washington yesterday to avert a strike against Iraq.

Separately, French President Jacques Chirac leveled some of the strongest criticism yet at any unilateral action by the United States against Baghdad..

Such an attack, Mr. Chirac said, would be "counter to the French notion of collective security, a notion based on cooperation between states, the respect of law, and the authority of the [U.N.] Security Council."

In Texas, Vice President Richard B. Cheney, whose speech on Iraq earlier this week prompted much international criticism, said yesterday that President Bush would consult with Congress and Washington's allies before deciding whether to attack.

"I am confident that he will, as he said he would, consult widely with our Congress, with our friends and allies around the world before deciding on a course of action," Mr. Cheney told a gathering of Korean War veterans in San Antonio.

But the vice president underscored the threat posed by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

With weapons of mass destruction, Saddam could "be expected to seek domination of the entire Middle East and subject the United States or any other nation to nuclear blackmail," Mr. Cheney said.

Speaking at a political fund-raiser in Oklahoma, Mr. Bush made the same point, reiterating his determination to move against Iraq, while stressing that he would not move hastily.

"We must not allow the world's worst leaders to develop and harbor the world's worst weapons," he said. "I've got a lot of tools at my disposal and I'm a patient man."

Iraq added its voice to the debate yesterday by saying there was no point in allowing U.N. weapons inspectors back into the country, because an "insane, criminal" U.S. administration was determined to attack and oust Saddam.

In Baghdad, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark chimed in. He urged the United Nations to stop the United States from attacking Iraq.

"The United Nations must act to prevent an attack by the United States against Iraq," Mr. Clark said at a news conference in the Iraqi capital. "A U.S. assault on Iraq will cause more and greater violence."

Mr. Clark served as attorney general under President Johnson at the height of the Vietnam War.

While Saddam sent ministers to Damascus, Beirut and Beijing seeking support this week, ordinary Iraqis went about business as usual, seeming to accept whatever comes with fatalistic calm.

"We are not scared anymore by American bombs," said one Baghdad shopkeeper. "If they start bombing, let them do so."

In Europe, where NATO allies have often said they opposed attacking Iraq, Belgium led a subtle shift of tone yesterday, putting the onus on Iraq to prove it was sticking to U.N. resolutions if it wanted to avert a strike.

Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel said, "Europe will find it very difficult to remain squarely opposed to a preventive strike" if Baghdad refused to abide by the resolutions.

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