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Monday, 28 October, 2002, 21:48 GMT
US ups pressure for Iraq decision
UN Security Council
The draft needs nine yes votes and no vetoes
The United States Government has said that debate at the United Nations on a new Iraq resolution has gone on "long enough" and it is time to vote.


Saddam Hussein has made the United Nations look foolish

President George Bush
President George W Bush is trying to win UN Security council backing for a tough draft resolution that would pave the way for military action against Iraq if it failed to meet UN demands on weapons inspections.

Despite the mounting US pressure, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin has said again that France would reject any clause in the resolution that threatens an automatic use of force.

Hans Blix
Hans Blix has already had meetings with Iraqi officials
Meanwhile, the UN's chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, has been addressing the UN Security Council.

This is a crucial week for the Security Council. On Sunday, 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.

Among permanent Security Council members, Britain backs the US but Russia, China and France have expressed strong reservations.

The five have been haggling over the issue since President Bush appealed to the UN General Assembly in a speech on 12 September.

'Down to the wire'

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said: "The United Nations has debated this now long enough. The time has come for people to raise their hand and cast their vote."


We reject any clause on automatic recourse to force because recourse to force can only be the last resort

Dominique de Villepin
French Foreign Minister

President Bush has warned several times that the US will take unilateral action against Iraq if it does not get UN backing, but the US would clearly prefer international diplomatic backing for any campaign.

On Monday he said Iraqi President Saddam Hussein "has made the United Nations look foolish".

France is still objecting to the most controversial aspect of the US' draft resolution - an automatic trigger for military action.

"We won't give any agreement if we don't get a satisfactory result on the principles we are very keen on. We think that the two-stage approach is necessary if we really want to have a united position of the Security Council," Mr de Villepin told the BBC.

He also told Monday's Le Figaro newspaper that he had proposed a Security Council meeting at ministerial level to try to strike a deal.

"I put forward this idea to several colleagues, including Colin Powell, who welcomed it," he said.

Mr de Villepin has warned that France will put forward its own draft resolution if no accord is reached.

Competing drafts

France and Russia have both circulated alternative proposals to the US draft.

The Russian text is said to be the most strongly opposed to the US plan, while the French version seeks to bridge the gap between the US and Russian positions.

Peach march in San Francisco on Saturday
Domestic opposition: Thousands march for peace in the US
As permanent members of the council, France and Russia both have the power to veto the American proposals.

Of the other permanent council members, the UK has backed the US draft and China is expected to abstain.

The draft needs nine "yes" votes and no veto to succeed.

The 10 elected members are believed to be divided on the issue.

Inspector's briefing

The Security Council has been briefed by Mr Blix and Mohammed El-Baradei, of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is in charge of nuclear inspections.

Emerging from the briefing, Mr Blix avoided taking sides in the disagreements among the Security Council's permanent members.

He said he had stressed to the council the necessity of "broad unity" within the council.

"It helps if Iraq is conscious that non-cooperation will entail reactions by the council," he said.

Mr Blix said that, if the inspectors went back into Iraq, they would only be reporting facts and observations.

"Our job is to report, and the decision whether there is war or peace or reaction - that is for the council and its members," Mr Blix said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Peter Biles
"This could be a make or break week for the UN"
The BBC's David Bamford
"One side or the other will have to make a compromise"
Dominique de Villepin, French Foreign Minister
"We need a resolution"

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27 Oct 02 | Americas
27 Oct 02 | Americas
26 Oct 02 | Middle East
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