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Saddam Meets Senior Officials Amid US War Threats
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein Monday chaired a meeting of his most trusted senior officials as the prospect of US-led war on Iraq is increasingly taking shape, the official Iraqi News Agency reported.

Among those present at the meeting were Vice-Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) Izzat Ibrahim, Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan, and Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz, INA said, without disclosing any details of the meeting.

The gathering of the four most influential figures in the country came as media reports are increasingly speculating possiblemilitary actions on Iraq by the United States as part of its war against terrorism.

The New York Times reported Monday that the United States is considering a strategy of launching attacks first on the capital ofBaghdad and one or two key command centers and weapons depots to paralyze Iraq's command-and-control nerve, in a bid to prevent Iraqfrom resorting to weapons of mass destruction.

US President George W. Bush, who branded Iraq as part of an "axis of evil," along with Iran and the Democratic People's Republicof Korea, has vowed to topple Saddam by all the possible tools he has, including military actions.

Saddam and his top aides have remained adamant in the face of USwar threats and vowed to thwart any US schemes against the country.

In a July 17 speech on the 34th anniversary of the July 17-30 revolution that brought the Arab Baath Socialist Party to power in Iraq in 1968, Saddam struck a defiant note and said the United States will never be able to defeat Iraq.

In a strong message to "all evil tyrants and oppressors of the world," Saddam said "You will never defeat me this time, never evenif you come together from all over the world and invite all the devils as well to stand by you, support or incite you."

(Xinhua News Agency July 30, 2002)

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