© St. Petersburg Times, published April 2, 2003
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Saudi Arabia repeated its call Tuesday for Saddam Hussein to sacrifice himself to end the war in Iraq, warning there is a danger that hostilities will escalate into a regional conflict whose outcome cannot be predicted.
The response from Baghdad was brusque, even for the tough-talking Iraqis: "Go to hell."
In Riyadh, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal said at a news conference: "I've seen the destruction that looms ahead of us, and I've seen that whatever happens, the victor is the loser."
Saudi officials have been pressing their ideas to resolve the conflict, but Saud has refused to give details. Saudi Arabia has urged "internationalizing" the interim post-Hussein government.
As he has before, Saud called on Hussein to resign.
"If the only thing remaining to resolve this situation in Iraq is sacrifice for President Saddam Hussein, and since he's asking all Iraqis to sacrifice their lives for their country, then the least that can be expected is, he would sacrifice himself for his country," the foreign minister said. "He has to step aside."
Only one other Arab nation, the United Arab Emirates, has called on Hussein to leave.
But Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said that isn't going to happen.
"Go to hell," he said Tuesday at a news conference in Baghdad. Addressing his comments to Saud, he said, "You are too much of a nothing to say a word addressed to the leader of Iraq."
UNITED NATIONS -- Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Tuesday that there is "lots of unhappiness" at the United Nations about the war in Iraq and that Arab nations want the United Nations to do more to bring about a cease-fire.
The 22-member Arab Group met on Monday with Annan and announced that it would push for adoption of a resolution in the General Assembly to show the strength of world opposition to the U.S.-led military campaign.
Annan said Arab nations want to see the secretary-general and the Security Council "be a bit more active" about trying to end the war.
"My concern is the population in the cities that are besieged," Annan said. "With the hot season coming on, if you have no water and electricity it can lead to sanitation problems."
CAIRO -- Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa sharply criticized Arab governments on Tuesday for their failure to halt the U.S.-led war on Iraq and said it was time for Arabs to build a new regional security order.
"The Arab states have failed to meet their obligations and stand up to the challenges," Moussa told reporters at league headquarters in Cairo. "We have to look seriously and honestly at the way the Arab system is working."
Earlier, in an interview with the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq al Awsat that appeared Tuesday, Moussa said some Arab countries "wanted the war and there were those who prepared for its eruption hoping for a desired objective."
"If Arabs were united, the war wouldn't have started," he told the Saudi-owned paper. "My assessment is that Arabs are too weak."