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Divided Senate debates need for war now

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 8, 2003

WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans rallied behind President Bush and his policy on Iraq on Friday, saying they fully supported his intent to forcibly disarm Saddam Hussein with or without new U.N. backing should the Iraqi leader not do so on his own.

"We are fast approaching the moment of reckoning with Saddam Hussein," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist as the Senate concluded more than three hours of partisan give-and-take over Bush's approach to Iraq. "If he were to voluntarily disarm it would be welcome, but he will not."

Democratic Sens. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts sharply challenged the Republican view offered in a series of speeches on the Senate floor, saying the U.N. weapons inspections were producing results and that diplomacy could yet bring about a peaceful resolution of the crisis.

Turkey reinforces its border

ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkey strengthened its forces on the Iraq border Friday, sending hundreds of trucks and dozens of tanks and artillery guns to the frontier in the largest Turkish military buildup ahead of an Iraq war.

The move comes amid tensions between Turkey and Iraqi Kurds who live in an autonomous zone across the border. Turks and Iraqi Kurds could be key allies of the United States in a war to depose Saddam Hussein.

Germany asked to expel Iraqi agents

BERLIN -- The United States has asked Germany to expel alleged Iraqi agents, the Foreign Ministry said Friday.

The ministry declined to detail the number or identity of the Iraqis involved, but said there were six Iraqi diplomats in Germany.

U.S. officials say Washington has identified 300 Iraqis in 60 countries -- some operating as diplomats out of Iraqi embassies -- whom it wants expelled, arguing they could attack U.S. interests overseas.

U.N. short of humanitarian funds

GENEVA -- U.N. aid agencies face a huge funding shortfall that will hamper plans to cope with a war in Iraq, officials said Friday.

The United Nations has received only $40-million of the $123-million it said in February it would need to cover the first three months of an Iraqi operation if there is war, a spokeswoman said.

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