Iraq's U.N. ambassador, Mohammed Douri, said he was leaving New York today because he did not want to represent his country under a U.S.-British occupation.
Douri, the first Iraqi official to concede the government of President Saddam Hussein was defeated, said he would go to Paris and then on to Damascus to "see what they have heard of my family."
Diplomats said Douri did not hand in his credentials. Iraq's mission to the United Nations would remain open, they said, and be overseen by his deputy until the situation in Iraq became clearer.
"When this occupation ends . . . I will be the first to enter my country as a free country," Douri said in a joint interview with Reuters television and Dubai-based al-Arabiya television, broadcast today.
"I would like to find our country free as America has promised," said Douri, who was a Baghdad University law professor for 30 years and a diplomat for four.
In an earlier interview with al-Arabiya television, he said, "I am leaving because I don't think I can work in a country that is invading Iraq, destroying, killing and demolishing whatever it wants."
Douri said he would be under pressure if he stayed and preferred to withdraw "with dignity and respect."
He complained several weeks ago to the United Nations of being followed and harassed by police and other U.S. authorities.
As Baghdad's representative to the United Nations, Douri had maintained that Iraq no longer had any weapons of mass destruction. On Wednesday, he stood on the steps of his Manhattan townhouse and began to distance himself from Hussein.