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Iraq: Coalition Forces Questioning Aziz

Al-Saliyah, Qatar; 25 April 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. military said today that coalition forces in Baghdad were questioning Iraq's former deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, in a bid to obtain information about the whereabouts of toppled President Saddam Hussein. A U.S. Central Command spokesman in Qatar also confirmed reports that Aziz surrendered to U.S. forces.

Aziz was 43rd on a U.S. list of 55 "most wanted" Iraqi officials.

Speaking today in London, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw welcomed news of Aziz's surrender. Straw said he expects Aziz and other officials already in custody to provide important information about the nature of Hussein's regime.

Straw also said failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq would not remove justification for the war, or mean that the U.S.-led coalition overestimated the threat posed by Hussein.

U.S. President George Bush yesterday said he still believes some weapons of mass destruction will be found in Iraq but raised the possibility that Hussein's regime destroyed them or moved them.