BAGHDAD, IRAQ, JAN. 6 -- Iraqi President Saddam Hussein warned his people in a speech today to prepare for a "battle against tyranny represented by the American administration" that he said would require "serious sacrifices" by his country.
Addressing the nation on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Iraqi army, Saddam signaled neither a willingness to withdraw from Kuwait nor a desire to make concessions for the sake of resolving the Persian Gulf crisis peacefully.
But a diplomat consulted after the speech described Saddam's tone as subdued, and said his repeated usage of the term "battle" occurred more in an ideological than a military context.
Saddam told the Iraqis: "You are fighting a battle against double standards, persecution, corruption and immorality. The battle against tyranny represented by the American administration . . . is not perceived to be a short one, nor will its serious achievements be realized without serious sacrifices."
He said the nation should not think that the "unity battle of new Iraq after Kuwait's liberation from oppression and corrupted oppressors . . . will be short and its sacrifices simple."
"A battle of such scope requires serious sacrifices both in quantity and quality, irrespective of the foreseen and unforeseen consequences," he said.
He described Iraq as being involved in a "decisive battle" that has been "ordained by God" against "the tyrant of the age, the foolish American administration . . . its created Zionist entity and those cursed who have allied with it on a course of evil, vice and tyranny."
Saddam referred to Kuwait as the "19th province" of Iraq, but he did not repeat references from previous weeks about Iraq's occupation of Kuwait being irreversible.
He made no reference to the scheduled meeting in Geneva Wednesday between Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz and Secretary of State James A. Baker III.
Diplomats here had viewed the occasion of Army Day as an opportunity for Saddam to send a clear signal to the world about his intentions regarding the five-month-old Iraqi occupation of Kuwait.
U.S. Embassy charge d'affaires Joseph C. Wilson IV drove to the Rasheed Hotel in Baghdad to watch the speech live at the offices of Cable News Network, which provided a simultaneous translation from Arabic. Wilson declined to comment afterward.
News agencies reported:
Foreign Ministers Esmat Abdel-Meguid of Egypt, Prince Saud of Saudi Arabia and Farouk Charaa of Syria met in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with Yugoslav Foreign Minister Budimir Loncar, who briefed the Arab officials on a visit he made last week to Baghdad. Loncar, whose country heads the Nonaligned Movement, said he believed diplomatic resolution of the gulf crisis is still possible.
The European Community asked Iraq to reconsider its decision not to send Aziz to Luxembourg for talks following his meeting with Baker. The EC, in a statement released today, said the 12 member countries "believe that this reaction of the Iraqi government does not contribute to the efforts undertaken in the search for a peaceful solution of the gulf crisis."
British Prime Minister John Major flew to the Persian Gulf for a four-day tour that includes talks with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Oman after declaring in a broadcast interview that Iraq will be attacked if it does not pull its forces out of Kuwait. "If he gets out of Kuwait," Major said, referring to Saddam, "he won't be attacked. If he doesn't he will be."
Forty-two German, Belgian and Italian air force jets flew to Turkey to help defend its frontier with Iraq if war breaks out. They made up a NATO air team requested by Turkey, whose border with Iraq is a possible second front in a gulf war.
Four international airlines suspended flights to Israel, citing steeper insurance rates. The suspensions were announced by the Scandinavian company SAS, Polish Lot Airlines, Cyprus Airways and South African Airlines. Last week Pan Am announced a suspension of flights to Israel, while British Airways and KLM cut back the number of weekly flights.