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U.S., Britain aim to issue deadline to Baghdad

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 20, 2003


UNITED NATIONS -- The United States and Britain will present a resolution to the Security Council in the next few working days authorizing force to disarm Iraq along with a deadline for the council to vote on it, U.S. and British officials said Wednesday.

British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock said the draft resolution also would set a cutoff date for Iraq's compliance, "implicitly or explicitly" to force the Security Council to limit how much longer inspections should continue without Baghdad's full cooperation.

The resolution, which the administration had been expected to unveil days ago, has been held up by haggling between the United States and its key partner, Britain, on its timing and the content, as well as by the growing antiwar movement worldwide and opposition within the Security Council.

But after a 30-minute phone conversation between President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday, they agreed that a new resolution should compel the council to take action sooner rather than later.

The three basic elements of the proposed resolution are that Iraq is in material breach; that it was given one final chance and failed to fully comply, which amounts to a further breach; and that it is time for members of the international community to move forward with the "serious consequences" spelled out in Resolution 1441, which returned weapons inspectors to Iraq late last year.

Secretary of State Colin Powell urged Germany and the veto-holding council members who oppose war -- France, Russia and China -- not to be "afraid" to take responsibility for enforcing the U.N. resolutions that call on Iraq to disarm.

"It cannot be a satisfactory solution for inspections just to continue forever because some nations are afraid of stepping up to the responsibility of imposing the will of the international community," Powell said in an interview with Radio France released Wednesday by the State Department.

Powell confirmed that the process will continue to unfold until chief weapons inspector Hans Blix makes another progress report at the end of the month -- and, he hinted, possibly once again in mid March. But the United States is reluctant to make a decision on a further report from the inspectors, as the French have demanded, until it finds out what the next report concludes, he said.

"We can't just keep meeting as foreign ministers to listen to reports about how Iraq is thinking about cooperating or is cooperating on process," Powell told Radio France. "It is not process that we are looking for. It is compliance."

Separately, the Bush administration Wednesday rebuffed Turkish demands that it increase the economic aid package it has offered to win Turkey's help in opening a northern front in a war against Iraq.

Powell told Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul in a telephone call that a U.S. package of $6-billion in grants and $20-billion in loans is all Turkey can expect, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Thousands of American troops are aboard Navy ships in the Mediterranean, waiting for permission to land, along with tanks and other heavy equipment. U.S. officials said they were prepared to make other plans for a northern front if Turkey does not go along.

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