Saddam's foes to hold summit

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AS PRESSURE mounts at the United Nations to take some action against Iraq, its main regional neighbours are preparing a summit to discuss ways of toppling Saddam Hussein. These efforts coincide with more rumours, apparently part of a destabilisation campaign, of a plot against the Iraqi leader.

According to informed Iranian and Arab sources, the ground is being laid for a summit to be attended by the Iranian President, Hashemi Rafsanjani, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and President Hafez al-Assad of Syria.

Representatives of several Iraqi opposition groups, including the London-based Council for Free Iraq, the Kurds, Arab Nationalists and Damascus-based Baathists - opposed to the Iraqi ruling party of the same name - are now meeting in Tehran with those of the Supreme Assembly of the Iraqi Islamic Revolution. This is based in Tehran to 'co-ordinate' anti-Saddam activities.

'The US is determined to topple Saddam, but it wants this to be done by the Iraqis themselves, with the help of regional powers, mainly Iran, Saudi and Syria,' said Saad Jaber, chairman of the Council for Free Iraq.

Rumours of another plot against President Saddam surfaced in the Middle East yesterday, as Iraq moved towards a critical new stage of its confrontation with the United Nations.

Plot rumours have been thickening since the Los Angeles Times reported early last month that the CIA had put in for a nearly tripled budget for destabilising President Saddam, including more observation flights, and presumably black propaganda. 'They are trying to talk the man down,' said one international strategist.

Western diplomats and Kurdish representatives said they had no information about any unusual events in Baghdad and that the latest coup rumours - which also surfaced in Egypt and Kuwait - were probably wishful thinking.