Farrakhan Arrives in Iraq
Dec. 09, 1997
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan arrived in Baghdad today, the start of a 52-nation tour criticized by Washington for stops in Iraq, Libya and other countries it considers problematic.
At Baghdad's al-Rashid Hotel, Farrakhan was met by Iraqi Information Minister Humam Abdel-Khaliq. Neither man made a statement to reporters, but Farrakhan, asked about the goal of his visit, raised his index finger and said ``peace.''
In Washington, the State Department said last week that Farrakhan's trip was ill-advised because some countries considered terrorist states could use the visits for propaganda purposes.
``We believe that the visit of U.S. citizens to these countries will, therefore, result in their being used for propaganda purposes,'' spokesman James P. Rubin said.
The administration, he said, believes a visit to Iraq by Farrakhan ``is not particularly helpful'' because of recent tension between the countries.
On Nov. 13, Iraq expelled American weapons experts on the U.N. team that is in charge of eliminating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. It accused them of being spies. After a tense week of threats from both sides, they returned to Iraq under a Russian-mediated deal.
Travel restrictions apply to several countries on Farrakhan's itinerary, including Iraq, Iran, North Korea and Cuba. The restrictions differ from country to country. Use of U.S. passports for travel to Iraq is barred with few exceptions.
After Farrakhan visited Iraq in early 1996 as part of a similar tour, immigration officials said he had a ``normal admission'' back to the United States, suggesting he did not make illegal use of his passport.