LONDON – Saddam Hussein (search) has given no useful information to U.S. interrogators, who are patiently trying to make the deposed Iraqi dictator feel "comfortable" about talking, a senior British official said Friday,
However, documents found in Saddam's briefcase have yielded results "greater than we were ever expecting," he said.
The official also expressed fears that foreign terrorists would increasingly seek to destabilize southern Iraq, where British forces have the main responsibility.
The senior official, who briefed journalists on condition of anonymity, said U.S. authorities were taking their time interrogating Saddam, who was captured on Dec. 13, in the hope that he might eventually open up.
"He has not talked himself, but what came out of the papers found with him led to further operations, which led to further information, which led to further operations," said the official, who is closely involved in British activity in Iraq. "It has by no means ended the problem ... but it has not been a bad few weeks for the American forces."
The official said the top U.S. administrator, L. Paul Bremer (search), told Prime Minister Tony Blair (search) in Basra last week that "Saddam is not offering information of a useful operational kind. I think they (U.S. authorities) are taking their time, to try to get him to talk in general terms and to feel comfortable that he can talk in captivity."
Saddam was arrested near his hometown of Tikrit, and the U.S. military has said soldiers also seized a briefcase containing documents that shed light on the anti-U.S. insurgency.
The CIA is interrogating Saddam. Iraqi officials have said the former dictator is being held in the Baghdad area.
The British official said Saddam loyalists were operating in small cells and have found it difficult to organize a coordinated structure to carry out attacks against coalition troops.
He said trained foreign fighters were still trickling into Iraq. He said he feared they would try to destabilize southern Iraq, which has not seen the same level of violence as U.S.-controlled Baghdad and areas surrounding the capital.
As the economy improves, however, Iraqis are becoming more cooperative with the coalition and were informing on outsiders, he said.
The official said the coalition and the Iraqi Governing Council still had to address the sensitive issue of provincial governments, a concept the Kurds hope will solidify their autonomy in parts of the north.
He said the Kurds would be "given enough room to breathe" with their own government and regional assembly. But he stressed that Iraq will only have one army, one set of border guards and a centralized security structure.
Turkey and Syria worry that Kurdish autonomy may incite minorities in Turkey, Syria and Iran to push for similar power.
The official said Blair's top envoy in Iraq, Jeremy Greenstock, would attend a Jan. 19 meeting in New York with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Iraqi leaders and members of the Coalition Provisional Authority to discuss what role the United Nations might play in Iraq's transition to self-rule.