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Friday, 15 February, 2002, 20:33 GMT
US 'has support for Iraq attack'
Iraqi military parade
The US is looking at options for a "regime change"
US Vice President Dick Cheney has said any future "aggressive action" against Iraq would be backed by the international community.

"I think if aggressive action is required, I would anticipate that there will be the appropriate support for that both from the American people and the international community," Mr Cheney told the Washington-based Council of Foreign Relations.

Mr Cheney also said he had been "deeply disappointed" by the behaviour of Iran's government in recent months.

Vice President Dick Cheney
Cheney is heading for the Middle East next month

"We've seen all too many examples of their active support of terrorism and their, as the president said the other night in the State of the Union speech, unstinting efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction," he said.

President George W Bush's speech singled out Iraq, Iran and North Korea as part of an "axis of evil" involved in backing terrorism and developing weapons of mass destruction.

The more bellicose US rhetoric has caused concern among allies, especially in the European Union, who are worried that US aggression could undermine stability in the Middle East.

On Friday, the EU's External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten said it was vital that the US, encouraged by its military victory in Afghanistan, did not strike off on its own.

Policy review

Mr Cheney's latest comments come as the Bush administration conducts a major review of its dealings with Iraq, with US media reporting that one option under consideration is military action to oust Iraqi President Sadaam Hussein.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
THe US has Sadaam Hussein in its sights

The review is due to be finished in time for a planned visit to the Middle East by Mr Cheney next month.

Mr Cheney is due to visit 11 countries in the region, including four neighbours of Iraq.

Washington is known to suspect Iran of involvement in an arms shipment which Israel intercepted in January and said was destined for Palestinian militants.

US officials have also warned Iran against trying to interfere in western Afghanistan, an area Teheran sees as coming under its influence.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jon Leyne
"The resolve is beyond doubt"
Conservative MP Michael Ancram
"Something has to be done"
See also:

15 Feb 02 | Americas
US 'working to topple Saddam'
05 Feb 02 | Middle East
UN says Iraq ready for talks
17 Jan 02 | Americas
Bush warns Iraq over arms
18 Dec 01 | Middle East
US builds support against Iraq
06 Feb 02 | Americas
Analysis: The 'axis of evil' debate
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