*EPF202 04/01/2003
White House Report: Don't Know If Saddam Hussein Is Dead or Alive, U.S. Says
(April 1: Iraq, Turkey, nominations) (1160)

When Saddam Hussein did not make a live appearance April 1 on Iraqi television as the Arab television network Al-Jazeera had announced he would, the White House again said it did not know whether the Iraqi dictator is dead or alive.

"The fact that he failed to show up for his scheduled appearance today raises additional questions," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters at his afternoon briefing.

Instead of the Iraqi leader, Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf delivered a televised statement attributed to Saddam Hussein denouncing the United States and calling for a jihad against its troops in Iraq.

Fleischer dismissed the statements as "more rhetoric by a regime losing its grip on power."

Fleischer said it is particularly interesting that, after it was announced that Saddam Hussein himself would address the Iraqi people but then did not appear, Iraq is not making a greater effort to show proof that he is alive.

"If you're in Iraq, if you're part of the Iraqi regime, if you're part of the leadership structure especially, if you had something hard or concrete to report such as that Saddam was alive, the question is, why aren't they showing it?" Fleischer said.

"The bottom line is, we don't know," Fleischer said. "We don't know and therefore we're going to be guarded about what we say because we don't know. He could show up, but he hasn't yet."


There are increasing "visible signs of Iraqis speaking out for freedom and helping the United States and the United Kingdom and Australia," Fleischer said.

"Some of the information that we have been getting from Iraqis has led to direct actions on the ground, as the military briefers have shared from CENTCOM. And so the only reason that Iraqis would be providing that is if they themselves are taking sides, and, obviously, they're taking sides with the United States and against the oppressive Iraqi regime,," he said.

President Bush has been made aware of this through the constantly updated information he gets from his military and intelligence briefings, Fleischer said.

In Iraq, Fleischer said, on television you now see "areas where people are being fed," and water is flowing into Basra again, "and that's creating an improved humanitarian situation."


In response to questions concerning plans for the interim government in Iraq following the ouster of the Saddam Hussein regime, Fleischer said the United States intends "to stay for as long as necessary to provide security on the ground and then leave, and not stay longer than is necessary."

"Obviously, you know, the United States being of the ground, providing the security, it's going to have a substantial role to play. And we want to make certain ... and welcome the role the others can play as well. The exact nature of those roles is yet to be determined," he said.

The fundamental issue, Fleischer said, "is not whether it's the United Nations or the United States that will administer Iraq; the Iraqi people will administer Iraq. Iraq can be and should be and will be, in the president's judgment, administered by the Iraqi people from both inside and outside Iraq."


Asked about the current visit to Turkey of Secretary of State Colin Powell, Fleischer responded:

"The visit to Turkey is meant to discuss with a NATO ally United States-Turkish relations. We are pleased with the fact that Turkey has honored what it told us it would do; it said it would not cross the border. It has not, despite many a rumor that said they had or they would. They have not. And the secretary of state is going to talk to Turkey about the importance of that continuing to be the practice, which, indeed, Turkey has done. And we enjoy important bilateral relations with Turkey. They remain a NATO ally."


On Thursday, April 3, President Bush will visit Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where he will make remarks to Marines and their families and give a progress report on the war. He will also have lunch with families before heading back to Washington, Fleischer said.


The President intends to nominate Steven A. Browning of Texas, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Malawi. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Mr. Browning currently serves as Diplomat-in-Residence at the Center for International Studies at the University of Southern California. He previously served as Dean of the School of Professional and Area Studies at the National Foreign Affairs Training Center. His previous overseas assignments include Deputy Chief of Mission in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Administrative and General Services Officer in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He also served as Administrative Officer in Alexandria, Egypt as well as a General Services Officer in Nairobi, Kenya. Earlier, he served as Consular Officer in Santo Domingo. He earned his bachelor's degree from Baylor University and his M.ED for the University of Houston.

The President intends to nominate Ronald Schlicher of Tennessee, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Tunisia. Mr. Schlicher currently serves as the Director of the Iraqi Task Force. He previously served as the Chief of Mission and Consul General of the United States in Jerusalem. Prior to this assignment, he was the Director of the State Department's Office of Egyptian and North African Affairs. His previous overseas assignments include Consular Officer in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia and as Consular Officer in Damascus, Syria. He also served as Consul General in Alexandria, Egypt and as Deputy Chief of Mission in Beirut, Lebanon. He received both his bachelor's degree and his law degree from the University of Tennessee.

The President intends to nominate Stephen M. Young of New Hampshire, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kyrgyz Republic. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Dr. Young currently serves as the Director of the Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs. He previously served as the Director of the Office of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh Affairs. Prior to this assignment, he was the Deputy Director of the American Institute in Taiwan. Earlier in his career, he served as Director of the Office of Caucasus and Central Asian Affairs and as Desk Officer on the Russian Desk. His previous overseas assignments include Beijing, Moscow and Taipei. Dr. Young is a graduate of Wesleyan University. He went on to earn his master's degree and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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