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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

U.S. Central Command Press Conference

Aired October 29, 2002 - 12:54   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: General Tommy Franks, the head of the U.S. Central Command, is answering reporters' questions over at the Pentagon.
Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

QUESTION: ... specifically to al Qaeda? Do you believe that there is a link between the two? Do you see irrefutable evidence that there are ties between the Saddam Hussein regime and al Qaeda?

GENERAL TOMMY FRANKS, CENTRAL COMMAND: Iraq is a state sponsor of terrorism. Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.

The linkages between the government of Iraq and other trans- national terrorist organizations like al Qaeda is not the issue with me. The issue is the potential of a state with weapons of mass destruction passing those weapons of mass destruction to proven terrorist capability. And I believe that that risk exists.

QUESTION: But more specifically, do you actually see a nexus between the Saddam Hussein regime and al Qaeda? Do you believe they have been in communication? Do you believe there have been al Qaeda members inside Iraq with government approval, operating in the country? Is al Qaeda active in Iraq?

FRANKS: I have seen an awful lot of speculation about whether there have been direct links between the Iraqi regime and al Qaeda, and I just simply won't enter into the speculation.

It is not helpful for me to join in that debate by saying that I have either seen one or five or 55 pieces of intelligence that would indicate to me that there is a linkage.

And so that's why I tried to tell you that it actually doesn't make any difference whether it's al Qaeda or whether it is other terrorist capability. The fact is that the nexus of state sponsorship with terrorists and weapons of mass destruction is a present and growing danger to the international community. And so that's where I prefer to keep my focus.specifically to al qaeda. s10

present and growing danger to the international community and so that's where I prefer to keep my focus.

BLITZER: General Tommy Franks answering Barbara Starr's question -- Barbara Starr, our CNN Pentagon correspondent -- about the possibilities of ties between the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.

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