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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan arrived in Baghdad for a two-day visit Saturday to discuss steps that could be taken to avert a possible U.S. military campaign against Iraq.
``Our purpose here is to see the people of Iraq, hopefully the leadership, and to see what we can do to possibly stop a war,″ Farrakhan told reporters on his arrival in Baghdad. Farrakhan opposes U.N. sanctions against Iraq.
Farrakhan, whose Nation of Islam is based in Chicago, has already been to Qatar, Yemen and Lebanon as part of a Middle East tour.
A frequent visitor to the Middle East, Farrakhan’s views on race relations in the United States and Jews have made him a source of concern to U.S. authorities.
The U.N. Security Council and the United States accuse Iraq of trying to rebuild its banned weapons programs and of supporting terrorism. The world body has failed to persuade Iraq in talks held in Vienna to allow the return of U.N. weapons inspectors.
The United States has warned Saddam he faces unspecified consequences if he does not allow the return of the inspectors, who left ahead of 1998 allied airstrikes launched to punish Iraq for blocking inspections.
Iraq has been under U.N. sanctions since it invaded Kuwait in 1990. The sanctions can be lifted only when inspectors certify that Iraq’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons have been destroyed, along with the long-range missiles that could deliver them.