Saddam rages at `traitors'

Baghdad (AFP) - Iraq's President, Saddam Hussein, in a statement on official radio, yesterday accused his son-in-law, who defected to Jordan, of having stolen millions of dollars.

General Hussein Kamel Hassan "stole several million dollars from the Iraqi people", the President said. "He would be better off dead than to live in dishonour."

Jordan granted Gen Hussein, the former industry minister and a key aide, his brother and their wives - President Saddam's daughters - political asylum on Thursday.

President Saddam also pledged yesterday that his country's "march towards prosperity" will go on despite "traitors".

"Iraq's victorious march will continue despite hard circumstances and betrayals by traitors," President Saddam said in a statement carried by the official INA news agency.

"This march will only go upwards towards prosperity," he said. "We will fight treason, especially that which attacks the resources and fortunes of the people as if they were cattle to be milked."

In Amman, senior US military officials held an "informal meeting" with Gen Hussein. The US military officials and Gen Hussein "are discussing information that General Hussein Kamel Hassan might have on Iraqi arms, especially biological and chemical," the official added.

Gen Hussein, the former industry minister and head of the powerful Military Industrialisation Agency, was the main architect of Iraq's advanced- weapons programs.

Jordan's decision to grant asylum to two daughters of President Saddam and their husbands, both former top aides, was aimed at pushing for change in Baghdad, officials said yesterday. "The Iraqi people have suffered enough," a Jordanian official said. "It is time for a change to take place in Iraq to put an end to the suffering of its people who have endured too much because of its leaders."