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Fighting terror

New U.N. resolution gets final polish

©Associated Press
February 21, 2003

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration and its closest ally, Britain, are planning to present a new resolution to the U.N. Security Council on Monday in a bid for support to use force to disarm Iraq.

Finishing touches were being put on the resolution Thursday. Adoption is by no means assured. A majority of the 15 council members are opposed to war at least until chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix reports on March 1.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said a headcount was "academic" because the resolution demanding Iraqi disarmament had not been put forward.

Powell, who is due to fly to Japan on Friday for the start of a five-day Asia trip, juggled resolution diplomacy with stressful negotiations with Turkey, a potential key ally in any war.

Turkey is balking at U.S. terms for an economic aid package. Powell, who interceded on Wednesday with Prime Minister Abdullah Gul, said he had told the Turkish leader "our position was firm with respect to the kind of assistance we could provide."

However, Powell said, "there may be some other creative things we can do."

As for the expected U.N. resolution, the Bush administration sees little value in extending inspections and much to worry about in Iraq's connection to al-Qaida and other terror groups.

One U.S. official said the projected day for presenting the resolution was Monday but that it could slip a day or two.

Powell said: "We won't put a resolution down unless we intend to fight for the resolution, unless we believe we can make the case that it is appropriate."

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Thursday evening the buildup of tens of thousands of troops in the Persian Gulf region has reached the point that they could launch an invasion if the president orders one. Asked on PBS' NewsHour With Jim Lehrer, if the U.S. and British forces massed in the area are ready to go to war, Rumsfeld replied: "Yes."

Meanwhile, Iraq allowed another flight by an American U-2 surveillance plane Thursday as President Saddam Hussein's government sought to convince the world that it is cooperating with the weapons inspectors.

It was the second flight this week by a U-2 in support of the U.N. inspection program. The Iraqi Foreign Ministry said the plane spent six hours and 20 minutes over Iraq's territory.

In New York, a U.N. spokesman said Iraq had submitted a list of 83 people involved in the destruction of banned weapons in response to a demand by Blix.

Meanwhile, four U.S. military transport planes carrying troops and equipment landed near Romania's Black Sea coast Thursday night, airport officials said, in what appeared to be the start of a new stage of the buildup of forces against Iraq.

The planes carried some 250 troops as well as equipment and food. They were to remain in Romania until Monday, said Alexandru Bazdac, an airport official in Constanta. On basing U.S. troops in Turkey, Gul said in Ankara that a statement would be made on Friday. He did not elaborate.

Powell did not provide details about the refinements in the U.S. aid package that were under consideration. But another U.S. official said one approach might be to seek a $1-billion congressional appropriation that would then permit Turkey to obtain loans at preferential U.S.-government rates for many times that amount.

"We are waiting to hear back from the Turks," Powell said. "I think they understand the importance of this issue to us, and to our efforts, and they've got it under consideration now."

Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis said in Ankara he did not expect a crucial vote on whether to accept U.S. combat soldiers before next week

"We're somewhere close to an end in the negotiations," Yakis said.

Turkish Economy Minister Ali Babacan said the dispute could be resolved "within days."

Turkey has asked for $10-billion in aid, while the United States has offered some $6-billion.

Ships carrying equipment for a U.S. infantry division are already at sea. The United States wants to base tens of thousands of soldiers in Turkey to open a possible northern front against Iraq.

The dispute with Turkey is one of many problems the Bush administration has as it tries to line up support for an attack on Iraq if Saddam doesn't disarm quickly.

Implying the United States might deploy troops elsewhere if terms could not be reached with Turkey, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said "we have to deal with realities, and we will."

Meanwhile, President Bush sought to keep the pressure on the Security Council, telling a suburban Atlanta audience, "denial and endless delay in the face of growing danger is not an option."

The president has said the council risks irrelevance if it does not face up to Iraq's defiance of more than 10 years of disarmament resolutions.

Bush also has said if the council does not approve a second resolution he is prepared to go to war with a "coalition of the willing" -- nations like Britain that agree with him that Iraq's arsenals of biological and chemical weapons pose a threat.

Bush planned to host Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar of Spain, an ally, at his Texas ranch Friday and Saturday. Another potential ally, Prime Minister Simeon Saxcoburggotski of Bulgaria, is due next Tuesday at the White House.

Poll shows worry over lack of overseas support

WASHINGTON -- A solid majority of Americans supports military action against Iraq, but the concern that the United States doesn't have enough international support for such military action is growing, says a new poll.

Nearly six in 10 Americans, 57 percent, say the United States should get a second U.N. resolution before attacking Iraq, and about the same number, 58 percent, say this country does not currently have enough international support for such an attack, according to a poll released Thursday by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Pew Research Center Director Andrew Kohut said the most important findings of the poll are that the debate with longtime allies in the United Nations, the report by U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and overseas peace protests "have affected public opinion."

"The number of people who are basically backing support hasn't changed," Kohut said, "but concerns about the big qualification of international support have."

General support for military action against Iraq was at 66 percent, but that tends to drop in polls when people are asked about attacking without allied backing. Polls show a majority approves of military action as long as this country has the support of major allies.

The Pew poll of 1,254 adults conducted with the Council on Foreign Relations was conducted in waves Feb. 12-13 and Feb. 14-18. It has an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points, slightly larger for subgroups.

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