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Saddam says condolences would be hypocrisy

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi President Saddam Hussein says he would be a hypocrite if he sent condolences to the United States over the September 11 suicide attacks on Washington and New York.

"(U.S. President George) Bush wants us to condole with him," Iraqi television quoted Saddam as telling a visiting envoy of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"If I had done so, then I would not have respected my Bush is the president of a state which launches war on us and bombs us in a despicable terrorist way," he said.

A U.S.-led coalition bombed Iraq heavily during the 1991 Gulf War. Iraqi targets still come under attack by Western planes policing two "no-fly" zones in the north and south of the country.

"This would be a hypocrisy if I had send condolences to its president and we are not hypocrites," he said.

Iraq has not publicly condemned the devastating attacks, but Saddam's senior aide, Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz, sent letters of condolences to a U.S. group opposed to sanctions on Iraq, and to former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark who Saddam said had come "to console us for the calamities afflicted by America on us".

Saddam said the U.S. had failed to produce evidence to back its claims about those responsible for the suicide attacks.

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