Mon, Oct 23, 2006 - Page 1 News List

US has displayed `arrogance' in Iraq, US diplomat says

AGENCIES , DUBAI

The US has shown "arrogance" and "stupidity" in Iraq despite its good intentions, a senior US diplomat said in an interview aired by an Arabic news channel yesterday.

"We tried to do our best but I think there is much room for criticism because, undoubtedly, there was arrogance and there was stupidity from the US in Iraq," Alberto Fernandez, director of public diplomacy in the bureau of Near Eastern affairs in the US State Department, told al-Jazeera.

"I believe there is a difference between mistakes made by the US in Iraq and the noble and honorable intentions of the US in Iraq. We need to concentrate now on how to save Iraq and end the violence and killing," said Fernandez, who was speaking in Arabic.

The US State Department had said earlier that a translation of the comments posted on al-Jazeera's English language Web site misquoted Fernandez.

"What he [Fernandez] says is that it is not an accurate quote," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

Asked whether he thought the US would be judged as being arrogant, McCormack said "No."

Fernandez said Washington was ready to talk with any Iraqi group except al-Qaeda in Iraq to end violence.

Al-Jazeera aired a separate interview with a spokesman for former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's Baath Party who said the US was seeking a face-saving exodus from Iraq, and insurgents were ready to negotiate but not lay down their arms.

The spokesman, identified as Abu Mohammed, outlined a series of conditions he said would have to be met before talks with the Americans could begin.

The demands included the return to service of Saddam's armed forces, the scrapping of every law adopted since his removal from power, the recognition of insurgent groups as the sole representatives of the Iraqi people and a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

Fernandez dismissed the conditions.

"There is an element of the farcical in that statement ... They are very removed from reality, and the traditional Baath Party in Iraq is a thing of the past," he told al-Jazeera.

Meanwhile, several bombs exploded in Baghdad, killing two people and wounding 29, including a child, medics said.

One blast hit a bakery in the mainly-Shiite suburb of Baghdad Jadida, injuring 20 people who had come to buy sweets and pastries, the latest in a series of attacks targeting families preparing for an upcoming feast.

Another bomb exploded inside a collective taxi as it passed through the crowded Shorjah market, police said at the scene.

"A passenger dropped a bomb in the back of the cab and got out. The car had gone just 20m when it exploded, killing the driver and another passenger and injuring five bystanders," police Major Mohammed Ali said.

Shortly after he spoke, another blast hit a nearby police vehicle, while terrified shoppers scattered for safety. One more civilian was hurt while panic stricken officers fired blindly at surrounding buildings.

US-led coalition forces unleashed an air strike south of the capital, killing five insurgents with a "precision strike" as they planted a booby-trap on a road near Arab Jabur, the military said.

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Bush meets with top US officials to discuss Iraq

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