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U.S. negotiates for surrender of former defense minister

Compiled from Times wires
Published September 17, 2003

MOSUL, Iraq - In a letter shown Tuesday to the Associated Press, a U.S. general promised to treat Saddam Hussein's fugitive defense minister with the "utmost dignity and respect" if he surrendered.

A mediator said American forces also were willing to take Sultan Hashim Ahmed's name off the 55 most-wanted list and not prosecute him if he turned himself in.

Special treatment for Ahmed, No. 27 on the list and the eight of hearts in the U.S. deck, could be an effort to defuse the guerrilla-style attacks that are taking a toll on American soldiers. Many of the attackers are thought to be former soldiers in Saddam Hussein's army. Seeing their former military leader well-treated by the Americans might encourage them to lay down their arms.

Ahmed is not believed to have participated in guerrilla attacks against U.S. forces.

The offer - made in a letter by Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, dated Aug. 28 - was in response to a request by Ahmed's family and tribal chiefs that the Army remove Ahmed's name from the most-wanted list in return for his surrender. Petraeus commands the 101st Airborne Division, which controls northern Iraq.

There were indications in Mosul that a deal was near.

Maj. Mike Shervington, spokesman for Col. Joe Anderson, commander of 101st Airborne's 2nd Brigade, said his boss was involved in negotiations on the issue Tuesday night.

Syria accused of aiding resistance

WASHINGTON - Syria is allowing fighters to cross its border into Iraq to kill U.S. soldiers and is aggressively seeking to acquire and develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, a senior Bush administration official said Tuesday. In addition, he said Syria continues to support organizations the United States lists as terrorist groups.

John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control, told a House hearing that the United States is trying to change Syria's behavior through diplomatic means and urged lawmakers to let the effort run its course before passing trade restrictions and other measures.

Democrats urge Bush to fire aides

WASHINGTON - House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and one of her party's staunchest advocates of a strong military exhorted President Bush on Tuesday to fire advisers who helped set U.S. policy in Iraq.

Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said that since Bush declared an end to major combat in Iraq on May 1, American policy there has been riddled with miscalculations over armed opposition and the extent of rebuilding, costing U.S. lives and billions of dollars.

"We can't allow these bureaucrats to get off while these young people are paying such a heavy price," Murtha, a Vietnam combat veteran and senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, said at a news conference with Pelosi. They did not name individuals they would like to see fired.

OPEC: Iraq can attend meeting

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries announced on Tuesday that a delegation from Iraq would participate at the cartel's meeting in Vienna next week. The decision overcomes months of resistance among OPEC members to the idea that an occupied Iraq should have a seat at the table.

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