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Bush, Blair tell Iraqis on TV: Freedom is at hand

WASHINGTON (BP)–President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the Iraqi people by television April 10 their country and freedom would soon belong to them.

“The nightmare that Saddam Hussein has brought to your nation will soon be over,” Bush told Iraqi viewers. “You deserve better than tyranny and corruption and torture chambers. You deserve to live as free people. And I assure every citizen of Iraq: Your nation will soon be free.”

The taped comments from the leaders of the countries spearheading the military campaign to liberate Iraq were transmitted into Iraq by way of a new Arabic network produced by the United States and England, according to Reuters news service. The messages from Bush and Blair initiated the network, which will operate an hour a day from a U.S. Air Force plane flying over Iraq, Reuters reported.

In their statements, the texts of which were provided by the Associated Press, Bush and Blair sought to assure Iraqis the coalition forces were in their country to remove Hussein’s regime and to give control of the government to the people.

“Our forces are friends and liberators of the Iraqi people, not your conquerors,” Blair said. “They will not stay a day longer than is necessary.

“Our aim is to help alleviate immediate humanitarian suffering and to move as soon as possible to an interim authority run by Iraqis,” Blair told viewers. “This will pave the way for a truly representative Iraqi government, which represents human rights and the rule of law and spends Iraq’s wealth not on palaces and weapons of mass destruction, but on you and the services you need.”

The comments from Bush and Blair were telecast as coalition troops continued to make gains in the capital of Baghdad and Iraqis celebrated in the streets. Widespread looting also was taking place. While neither Bush nor Blair has declared victory, the increasing coalition control April 9, as well as the toppling of a Hussein statue, signaled to Iraqis and the world the totalitarian regime is near its end.

“[W]e will not stop until Saddam’s corrupt gang is gone,” Bush said.

“Coalition forces will help maintain law and order so that Iraqis can live in security,” the president said. “We will respect your great religious traditions, whose principles of equality and compassion are essential to Iraq’s future. We will help you build a peaceful and representative government that protects the rights of all citizens. And then our military forces will leave. Iraq will go forward as a unified, independent and sovereign nation that has regained a respected place in the world.”

The telecasts on the new network initially will be viewed in Baghdad and other parts of central Iraq before being expanded to the entire country, Reuters reported. The network, which is using Iraqi journalists, will continue until a “proper, free and open” media is in place, a British official told Reuters.

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