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Bush says Clinton also courted Iraq

In an apparent attempt to shift some of the political heat over the Bush administration's policies toward Iraq before the Persian Gulf war to Gov. Bill Clinton, President Bush on Sunday night accused the Democratic presidential nominee of trying to arrange agricultural loans to Baghdad.

In an interview on the CNN program Larry King Live, Bush said he was unaware of any illegal sales of military equipment to Iraq and it was "fallacious" to suggest that his administration had deliberately built up Iraq's military capability as a counter to Iran, as some published reports have suggested.

Pressed further on the issue, Bush said: "Do you know who wanted to make loans, grain credit loans, and get hold of Mr. (Nizar) Hamdoon, the Iraq ambassador, on grain credits? Gov. Clinton."

Bush offered no evidence or details of his assertion about Clinton. When asked if Clinton wanted to arrange loans for Iraq, Bush replied, "I believe that's the case. Ask him tomorrow."

Clinton was to be King's guest tonight.

Bush's assertions came in a rambling, hourlong interview in which Bush blamed his political troubles on the news media and criticized basketball star Magic Johnson for not attending meetings of the president's commission on AIDS regularly enough.