CHICAGO, July 10 (UPI) -- Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan Wednesday denied an Iraqi News Agency report quoting him as saying he hopes Iraq wins any military confrontation with the United States.
The Iraqi News Agency quoted Farrakhan as saying, "Muslim American people are praying to the almighty God to grant victory to Iraq."
"That absolutely is not true," Farrakhan said in a broadcast interview from South Africa, the latest stop on his tour of the Mideast and Africa. "The victory for Iraq as well as for the United States of America would be peace so that no United States soldier would be put in harms way, or one bomb dropped on the Iraqi people. That would be a victory for both sides and that's the victory that I and those with me are praying for -- not a war and a victory but peace as the victory for both sides."
Farrakhan, accompanied by Christian clergy, a Muslim imam, representatives of the Nation of Islam and journalists visited Iraq last weekend as part of a peace mission. While in Iraq, Farrakhan met with government officials, including Vice President Taha Yasin Ramadan, and religious leaders.
"I would never ask God to allow the American people, of whom I am one, to be slaughtered in a war or to die in a war for really what I see is a vendetta of our government against Saddam Hussein," Farrakhan said.
Farrakhan has met Hussein in the past and has expressed opposition to reported U.S. plans to topple the Iraqi strongman.
The Iraqi News Agency also said Farrakhan "expressed admiration for the Iraqis' steadfastness against the aggression and continued embargo.'' A spokesman for Farrakhan said that statement was, in part, correct.
"He said he has a higher appreciation of the way that the Iraqi people have rebuilt their society and their steadfastness to see life go on, almost as normal, even under the threat of an attack,'' spokesman Akbar Muhammad told the Chicago Sun-Times.
In remarks posted on the Nation's of Islam's Web site, Farrakhan said, "The hatred for the American government and its policies -- not for the American people -- is not subsiding, but increasing" in the Muslim world.