Mubarak Urges Iraq to Cooperate With United Nations to Avoid U.S. Strike

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday urged Iraq to resume cooperation with the United Nations to avoid a possible U.S. strike.

Addressing a group of army officers, Mubarak also warned that a U.S. military action against any Arab country as part of its anti-terror campaign would have "dire consequences on the region." He did not elaborate.

"I hope that Iraq will respond favorably to implementing the U.N. resolutions so that it won't provide any pretext to be used against it," Mubarak said.

Iraq has periodically surfaced as a possible U.S. target following the Sept. 11 attacks. Reports have said that an Iraqi agent met with one of the suicide hijackers before the attack and that foreign Arab militants were trained at Iraqi military camps. Iraq has denied all charges.

Washington has demanded that Saddam Hussein allow U.N. weapons inspectors to return to the country.

The United States has said a wider war is possible, and that it is watching Iraq. On Saturday, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for the Near East William Burns said on a visit to Kuwait that Washington has not made any decisions with regard to "particular options."

Meanwhile, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz vowed in an interview published Saturday that Iraq will "never allow the U.N. inspectors back in Iraq under any circumstances."

Aziz told the Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram Al-Arabi that Iraq has carried out all its obligations under U.N. resolutions, and the Security Council should now lift the sanctions.

Under U.N. resolutions, the 1990 sanctions can be lifted only after Baghdad proves that it has dismantled its weapons of mass destruction. Iraq has refused to allow U.N. weapons inspectors into the country since 1998.