UNITED NATIONS, OCT. 5 -- Iraq today delivered an uncompromising speech sharply criticizing the United States and its allies and accusing them of seeking to control the Middle East's oil and impose "hegemony over the world."
The speech to the U.N. General Assembly, delivered by Iraqi representative Sabah Talat Kadrat, contained no new offers or initiatives and restated Iraq's demand that "all the issues of the region -- Palestine, Lebanon, the gulf and others -- be considered on an equal footing." Iraq has argued that negotiations to end the Persian Gulf crisis precipitated by its invasion of Kuwait Aug. 2 should include talks on the Arab-Israeli conflict and the civil war in Lebanon.
The address had been awaited as Iraq's response to recent U.N. speeches by President Bush and French President Francois Mitterrand raising the possiblity of a diplomatic solution to the Persian Gulf crisis if Iraq leaves Kuwait.
In Baghdad, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein met with Yevgeny Primakov, a top adviser to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, and accepted a message from the Soviet leader. The Iraqi news agency did not disclose the contents of the message, news agencies reported, but Soviet sources and Soviet television said Primakov urged Saddam to cooperate with U.N. resolutions calling for Iraq's withdrawal.
Iraq accused the United States of having launched a large-scale disinformation campaign to mislead the world into believing that it was defending "the so-called international order."
"America and its Western allies are seeking, through this military, political and informational campaign, to gain control over the oil wells and to impose imperialist political, economic and military hegemony over the world, and over Third World countries in particular," Kadrat said.
Kadrat delivered the speech on behalf of Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz who was barred by Washington from traveling here aboard a special airplane. The speech was supposed to have been delivered by Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, Abdul Amir Anbari, but he was taken to a hospital on Thursday after a series of nosebleeds.
"On first reading, it's absolutely a hard-line speech," said a U.S. official. "There's nothing new, nothing interesting."
Kadrat accused the United States of using the U.N. Security Council as a tool. The resolutions passed by the council, he said, have aggravated the situation. The "deliberate political hysteria," he said, combined with the military buildup had led the world to the "brink of a devastating war." The Iraqi envoy also questioned U.S. and allied commitment to upholding international law and U.N. resolutions. "If the United States and its Western allies are, as they now claim, such firm upholders of principle, why then have all the problems and crises in the world remained unsolved?"
He warned Third World countries "to be on their guard against yielding to the campaign of disinformation being currently conducted by American and Western imperialism."
In Washington, the State Department said about 300 Americans and foreign-born family members have signed up for an evacuation flight due to leave Kuwait on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported. Today, four Germans held in Iraq were freed and allowed to fly to Amman, Jordan, with a member of the now-defunct East German parliament, Brigitta Koegler.