Saddam Asked Bush US$1 Billion To Go Into Exile
The offer has been revealed in a transcript of talks between US President George W Bush and the then Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar at Bush's Texas ranch.
According to the transcript published by Spanish daily 'El Pais', Bush told Aznar in February 2003 that the Iraqi dictator had made the exile offer via the Egyptian government.
"The Egyptians are speaking to Saddam Hussein. It seems he's indicated he would be prepared to go into exile if he's allowed to take US$ 1 billion and all the information he wants about weapons of mass destruction," Bush said.
When asked by the then Spanish Premier whether Saddam -- who was executed last December -- could really leave, the President replied: "Yes, that possibility exists. Or he might even be assassinated." Bush added: "Saddam won't change and he'll keep on playing games. The time has come to get rid of him. That's the way it is. We'll be in Baghdad by the end of March."
The confidential transcript was recorded by the then Spanish Ambassador to the US, Javier Ruperez, at the meeting between the two leaders at Crawford in Texas on February 22, 2003, the daily claimed.
According to the tapes, Bush was also dismissive of the then French President Jacques Chirac, saying he "thinks he's Mr Arab".
The US President referred to his relationship with Downing Street, saying, "I don't mind being the bad cop if (former British Prime Minister) Tony Blair is the good cop."
The White House has declined to comment on the transcript. (DNA)
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