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Iraq: Parliament Rejects Bush's Ultimatum


Baghdad, 19 March 2003 (RFE/RL) -- At an emergency session today, Iraq's parliament unanimously rejected an ultimatum from the United States that President Saddam Hussein leave the country to avoid an attack. Speaker Sa'dun Hammadi told deputies that it was "unthinkable" that Hussein would comply with U.S. President George W. Bush's ultimatum to leave the country by early tomorrow or face attack.

Bush said on 17 March that Hussein's refusal to comply with the U.S. ultimatum "will result in military conflict commenced at a time of our choosing."

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said yesterday that U.S. and British troops will enter Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction even if Saddam is gone.

"If (Iraqi leader) Saddam (Hussein) were to leave, the American forces, the coalition forces would still enter Iraq, hopefully this time peacefully, because Iraqi military would not be under orders to attack or fire back, and that way Iraq would be disarmed from the possession of weapons of mass destruction."

More than 270,000 U.S. and British troops are preparing to invade Iraq when given the order.

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