US media tip Pachachi as Saddam successor

Published Feb 16, 2003 12:00am

ABU DHABI, Feb 15: Adnan Pachachi, a former Iraqi foreign minister tipped as a future leader by US media, says he is prepared to serve his country again should President Saddam Hussein be toppled.

However, the retired 80-year-old exile strongly rejects a US military administration in Baghdad, disagreeing with US Secretary of State Colin Powell and plans to redraw the map of the Middle East.

“I am ready to serve (Iraq), particularly during the difficult period of transition which it will face,” said Pachachi, who has lived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since 1970.

Pachachi held talks in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday with Zalmay Khalilzad, Washington’s “special envoy and ambassador-at-large for free Iraqis”.

He denied receiving a specific “American offer” during the meeting at which Khalilzad reiterated US “determination to change the regime in Iraq”.

“The Americans prefer that it happens peacefully with the voluntary departure of Saddam Hussein. But they are also prepared to use force to overthrow him,” Pachachi said.

“The only point we agreed on is the need to avoid imposing a government on Iraq from abroad,” admitted the former Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations who served as foreign minister from 1965 to 1967.

Pachachi blasted US plans to redraw the map of the Middle East to benefit Washington and set up an American military administration in Baghdad as the work of a “Zionist lobby”.

“These statements come from the Zionist lobby in the United States which thinks that overthrowing Saddam Hussein will bring (Arab) reconciliation with Israel.

“That is stupid because if a democratic regime is created in Iraq, it will display greater hatred for Israel”, Pachachi said.

“This lobby is opposed to me playing any role (in Iraq), through the instigation of Ahmad Chalabi,” who heads the Iraqi National Congress.—AFP

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