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IRAQIS BLAME U.S., KUWAIT FOR INVASION

Iraq said Wednesday the United States and the rulers of Kuwait were to blame for its invasion of the oil-rich state five years ago.

State-run newspapers carried front-page editorials hitting out at Washington with one paper saying the U.S. represented the "empire of evil" in the world."The responsibility for the crisis does not fall on Iraq but on America in the first place and Kuwaiti rulers in the second," said the government newspaper al-Jumhouriya.

It said Iraq's decision to send troops into Kuwait was "a natural reaction" to what it described as plots by both the United States and Kuwait against Baghdad.

But this year's official comments stopped short of declaring Kuwait as part of Iraq. During previous anniversaries, the official media, in defiant rhetoric, would still insist that Kuwait was part of Iraq.

Baghdad late last year recognized Kuwait as an independent state within new borders demarcated by a U.N. commission after the Persian Gulf War.

Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait in the early hours of Aug. 2, 1990, after weeks of wrangling over oil production quotas. The Iraqi occupation lasted until a U.S.-led multinational alliance based in Saudi Arabia drove out Iraqi troops in February 1991 after a six-week war.

An arms show was organized at the heart of Baghdad this week, coinciding with the anniversary.

More than 1,000 pieces of military hardware, including 42 tanks, 45 armored personnel carriers, 100 pieces of artillery and large number of rocket launchers and communications equipment, were on display.

Organizers said the weapons had been damaged during the gulf war but were repaired by Iraqi technicians in a campaign under President Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Uday.