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Iraqi Media Ignore Parliament's Vote

Iraqi media on Wednesday ignored parliament's recommendation to reject the U.N. resolution on arms inspections, reporting only that lawmakers affirmed their trust in President Saddam Hussein to respond as he sees fit.

The gap between what the Iraqis are being told by the tightly controlled news outlets and what parliament said — recommending Saddam reject the U.N. resolution — could mean Saddam believes he has no choice but to accept the resolution, but is looking to do so with minimum loss of face.

Saddam's son, Odai Saddam Hussein, who plays a prominent opinion-making role, said the resolution should be accepted on condition Arabs be included on the inspection teams.

On Tuesday, Iraqi legislators unanimously voted to recommend Saddam reject the U.N. Security Council resolution that threatens Baghdad with "serious consequences" if it does not give U.N. inspectors no-holds-barred access to search for weapons of mass destruction.

The vote, broadcast live on foreign Arabic satellite television, was seen a message of defiance to the world, but by Wednesday it had still not been broadcast on Iraqi television. Satellite dishes are banned in Iraq.

No newspapers reported the rejection recommendation. The state-run Al-Iraq daily reported the parliamentary session by saying that legislators had decided to "authorize President Saddam Hussein to adopt whatever he deems appropriate regarding U.N. resolution 1441."

Iraq has until Friday to respond to the Security Council.

The official Iraqi News Agency said lawmakers reaffirmed their faith in Saddam's "wise leadership," but made no mention of the rejection vote.

Iraq's leading newspaper, Babil, ran the full text of Odai Saddam Hussein's letter. Odai Saddam Hussein owns Babil.

However, many Iraqis had heard of the parliament's rejection through foreign radio stations, such as the British Broadcasting Corp.'s Arabic service.

On the streets of Baghdad on Wednesday, construction worker Salman Mahmoud said he heard of the rejection on the Arabic service of Monte Carlo radio.

"It does not matter whether we reject or accept the U.N. resolution because the United States will attack Iraq anyway in the end," Mahmoud said.

A retired civil servant, Karim Abdul-Zahra, said he supported the parliament's rejection because the U.N. resolution was phrased in terms "where the slightest mistake or delay can provide legitimacy to a U.S. war on my country."

The U.N. resolution demands that inspectors have access to any suspected weapons site and the right to interview Iraqi scientists outside the country and without Iraqi officials present.

If Iraq rejects the resolution, or accepts it but fails to cooperate fully with inspectors, the United States and Britain have made clear they will attack Iraq.

Iraq maintains it no longer has any weapons of mass destruction.