News

DATE=10/31/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=IRAQI OPPOSITION (L ONLY) NUMBER=2-255673 BYLINE=LARRY FREUND DATELINE=NEW YORK CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Some 300 representatives of Iraqi opposition groups are concluding a four-day conference in New York aimed at uniting against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Correspondent Larry Freund reports from New York. TEXT: The meeting was organized by the Iraqi National Congress, a London-based opposition group, and supported by the United States. It concludes (Monday 8:30 AM EST) with a speech by U-S Under Secretary of State Thomas Pickering and a news conference that may indicate the success the opposition groups have had in ending their divisions. The conference brought together a number of opposition groups, including rival Kurdish factions, but was not attended by the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a major group based in Iran. An Iraqi newspaper has attacked the opposition groups attending the meeting, calling them traitors. Several American legislators, including Senators Sam Brownback and Bob Kerrey, urged the opposition groups to unite against Saddam Hussein. Congressman Benjamin Gilman, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on International Relations, said he wants the Clinton Administration to do more to assist the Iraqi opposition. But first, he said, the opposition must do more to unite itself. /// GILMAN ACTUALITY /// You must spell out a program for freeing your country, and then you must commit yourselves to implementing that program. We in the Congress stand ready to support you. If, as a product of this meeting, you bring to us a credible plan for escalating the challenge to Saddam Hussein, we will do everything we can to help you carry out that plan. (applause) /// END ACTUALITY /// Congress has already authorized the expenditure of 97- million dollars to support efforts of the opposition groups to topple Saddam Hussein. But in remarks to reporters, Congressman Gilman criticized the Clinton Administration for providing only limited assistance so far, saying you can't upset a government with just a fax machine.(Signed) NEB/NY/LSF/gm 31-Oct-1999 18:03 PM EDT (31-Oct-1999 2303 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .