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Sunday, 27 October, 2002, 11:34 GMT
US seeks Iraq decision 'in days'
Anti-war protesters march in front of the White House, 26 October, 2002
US plans for action against Iraq have met with stiff opposition
The US Government has signalled that it wants the United Nations to decide in the coming days what action to take against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said the UN could not debate the issue indefinitely, adding that "fundamental decisions" had to be made within the next week.


We can't continue to have a debate that never ends

Colin Powell, US Secretary of State
Washington has become increasingly frustrated over protracted arguments within the UN Security Council over the wording of a new resolution designed to ensure that Iraq disarms.

As America stepped up the pressure on the UN, tens of thousands of demonstrators marched in US and other cities around the world in protest against a possible war with Iraq.

The United States is seeking a resolution countenancing the use of force against Iraq if Saddam Hussein fails to comply with UN weapons inspectors.

But it has faced stiff resistance from other members of the Security Council, notably France and Russia.

Hardening stance

The US publicly stiffened its position after France warned on Saturday that it would submit its own draft resolution if no agreement could be reached with Washington over the wording of a US-drafted text.

Colin Powell
Powell said the UN could not debate forever
Speaking at an Asian economic summit in Mexico, Mr Powell said: "We can't continue to have a debate that never ends."

The BBC's correspondent Justin Webb says this is the firmest statement yet of America's view that the time for Security Council diplomacy is not just limited - but running out.

Mr Powell said there had not been much progress in finding common ground over the wording of a resolution and he admitted that a consensus might never be reached.

That pessimistic gloss, says our correspondent, may or may not be a diplomatic ruse designed to put pressure on the other nations to fall in line, but it is certainly being echoed from the White House.

At the same summit, US President George W Bush warned that "if the UN won't act [over Saddam Hussein]... we will lead a coalition to disarm him".

Anti-war protests

Huge crowds, meanwhile, took to the streets in cities across America as part of a day of worldwide protests against a possible American-led war against Iraq.

Demonstrators staged rallies in Washington, San Francisco and other cities, while protest marches also took place in Mexico, Japan, Spain, Germany, South Korea, Belgium and Australia.

In the US, the protests were hailed as some of the largest in the country since US citizens took to the streets in the 1960s and 1970s to protest the Vietnam war.

Waving banners and chanting slogans, the demonstrators called on Mr Bush to abandon plans to topple the Iraqi leader and to spend the billions of dollars needed for a military campaign on social programmes instead.


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27 Oct 02 | Americas
26 Oct 02 | Middle East
25 Oct 02 | Americas
24 Oct 02 | Middle East
23 Oct 02 | Middle East
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