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UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations walked out of a debate on the Iraqi war Thursday after Iraq's ambassador accused the United States of trying to exterminate the Iraqi people.
"I did sit through quite a long part of what he had to say but I'd heard enough," U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said.
Iraq's U.N. envoy Mohammed Al-Douri charged that the United States had arranged for contracts to rebuild Iraq in 1997, six years before the U.S.-led war began last week.
Negroponte got up and walked out as Al-Douri continued speaking, accusing the United States of a military campaign to wipe out the Iraqi people.
"I don't accept any of the allegations," Negroponte said.
Al-Douri said the United States had even planned the carving up of Iraq before Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.
Almost spluttering, he said the United States now was using the issue of humanitarian aid to hide its "criminal aggression."
The Iraqi envoy urged the Security Council to halt the war in Iraq, saying ending the conflict was even more important than getting humanitarian assistance into the region.
Al-Douri was the last of more than 80 speakers at the first open Security Council debate on Iraq since the war began last week. About a dozen countries that are not on the council supported the U.S. position, but the vast majority opposed the war and expressed regret that Iraq's disarmament could not be achieved peacefully.
"Britain and the United States are about to start a real war of extermination that will kill everything and destroy everything," Al-Douri warned. "And then their regret will be of no use."
"If the humanitarian issue is very important, it is more important" to halt the war, he said.
"The warning I would like to make to the members of the august council is that the United States and the British were hoodwinked when they were told that the Iraqi people would receive them with flowers and hugs and ululations, and the children and the mothers will rejoice at the coming of the U.S. forces," he said.
It was at that point that Negroponte got up from his seat around the horseshoe-shaped table in the Security Council chamber and walked out.
Al-Douri went on to say, "The Iraqi army up until now has not confronted the United States forces" -- just "the Iraqi people, the women, the children, the peasants."
Earlier, the United States and Britain clashed with Russia and France over getting aid to Iraq by revising the oil-for-food program that was suspended when the fighting began.
Negroponte said a new Security Council resolution to revive the program, which fed 60 percent of Iraq's 22 million people, was nearly ready and urged the council not to let any technical differences delay its passage.
The U.S. ambassador rejected charges by the majority of speakers that the U.S.-led campaign in Iraq was illegal and unilateral, saying Iraq brought the war on by not complying with U.N. resolutions that ended the first Gulf War in 1991.
"The coalition's response is legitimate and not unilateral," Negroponte said.
The military actions to disarm Iraq, he said, are "an appropriate response," he said.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)