Skip to main content
CNN International EditionWorld
The Web     
Powered by
Iraq Banner

CBS: Saddam challenges Bush to debate

Iraqi leader reportedly indicates he won't destroy missiles

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein challenged President Bush to a debate in an interview with CBS to be broadcast Wednesday.
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein challenged President Bush to a debate in an interview with CBS to be broadcast Wednesday.

Story Tools

•  Commanders: U.S. | Iraq
•  Weapons: 3D Models

NEW YORK (CNN) -- CBS News reported Monday that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has challenged President Bush to a live international television and radio debate via satellite, saying, "As leaders, why don't we use this opportunity?"

"I am ready ... to conduct a direct dialogue, a debate, with your president," Saddam was quoted as telling news anchor Dan Rather in a three-hour interview. "I will say what I want, and he will say what he wants."

If Bush is "committed to war," Saddam said, this would be his chance to "convince the world."

Asked if he was joking, the Iraqi president said, "This is something proposed in earnest, out of my respect for the people of the United States and my respect for the people of Iraq and the people of the world. I call for this because war is not a joke."

The White House said it was not taking Saddam's debate suggestion seriously.

"There's no debating what's required of him," White House communications director Dan Bartlett told CNN.

CBS did not broadcast portions of the interview Monday, but it showed graphics of quotes from the interview. It said portions of the interview will be shown Wednesday on "60 Minutes II."

According to CBS, Saddam also flatly denied that Al Samoud 2 missiles violated U.N. range restrictions and indicated he has no plans to destroy them, as demanded by U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix. Blix has put a Saturday deadline for Iraq to begin destroying the missiles.

"Iraq is allowed to prepare proper missiles, and we are committed to that," Saddam was quoted as telling Rather.

Is the Al Samoud 2 proper?

"We do not have missiles that go beyond the prescribed range," he said.

Earlier, Iraqi officials said they were considering how to respond to the Blix demand that Iraq begin destroying the missiles this weekend.

If Iraq does not comply, White House officials said, Saddam is helping to make the case for a new U.S.-backed resolution, introduced Monday, that could clear the way for military action against Iraq.

Story Tools
Click Here to try 4 Free Trial Issues of Time! cover
Top Stories
Iran poll to go to run-off
Top Stories
EU 'crisis' after summit failure

On CNN TV E-mail Services CNN Mobile CNN AvantGo CNNtext Ad info Preferences
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.