SADDAM Hussein was prepared to take $1 billion and go into exile before the Iraq war, George Bush, the United States president, is said to have told JosÃ© WMaria Aznar, the then prime minister of Spain, a month before the 2003 invasion.
During a meeting at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, on 22 February, Mr Bush told Mr Aznar that Saddam could also be assassinated, according to a transcript of their talks published yesterday in the Spanish newspaper El Pais.
“The Egyptians are speaking to Saddam Hussein. It seems he’s indicated he would be prepared to go into exile if he’s allowed to take $1 billion [Â£500 million] and all the information he wants about weapons of mass destruction,” Mr Bush was quoted as saying. Asked by Mr Aznar whether the Iraqi dictator could really leave, Mr Bush replied: “Yes, that possibility exists. Or he might even be assassinated.”
Mr Bush was dismissive about Jacques Chirac, the former French president, saying he “thinks he’s Mr Arab”, and he described the US as playing a game of “good cop, bad cop” with the former prime minister, Tony Blair.
“I don’t mind being the bad cop if Blair is the good cop,” he said.
Mr Bush referred optimistically to the reconstruction of Iraq, which he thought “could be organised into a federation”.