President Bush today taped a "very forthright" message to the Iraqi people, saying that he has no quarrel with them and that their suffering is the fault of their president, Saddam Hussein.
The White House urged Baghdad to air the eight-minute tape within five days, saying the television message will be released around the world after that.
Presidential spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said that if Iraqi officials censor or edit the message, "it'll be clear to the world what they were not willing to let their people see."
Bush stood in front of his desk in the Oval Office for the 7:30 a.m. taping, fewer than 12 hours after a speech to Congress and the nation in which he prepared the American people for a long and possibly painful U.S. commitment in the Persian Gulf.
His media adviser, Sig Rogich, said, "I'm very pleased with (the tape). He was very forthright."
Rogich declined to release a copy of the tape or its text. But Fitzwater said Bush reiterated his statement that the United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people and that their suffering is due to Hussein's invasion of Kuwait.
Bush said on the tape that "we want a peaceful resolution; we want peaceful coexistence with the people of Iraq," Fitzwater said.
The spokesman, asked if Bush used harsh rhetoric against Hussein, described the message as "personal and . . . directed toward the people of Iraq."
Fitzwater said the tape will be delivered to the Iraqi ambassador later today by Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger. The White House will then give the Iraqi government five days to broadcast the tape before releasing it to the world, Fitzwater said.
Rogich said that he was putting Arabic subtitles on the tape and that a simultaneous audio translation was being added.
Bush made the tape following an announcement by the Iraqi government last week that it would broadcast a message to the Iraqi people from Bush, and an offer to send a television crew to interview him.
The President chose to make his own videotape rather than submit to an interview.
Fitzwater said that Bush worked on the message with officials from the State Department and National Security Council and that he also consulted with experts on the Arab world.