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Wednesday, 29 January, 2003, 17:26 GMT
Solana toughens stance on Iraq
UN weapons inspectors
Solana says diplomacy must be given more time
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana has said the case for war against Iraq has not yet been made - making a thinly-veiled attack on the crisis' "hawks".

The centre of gravity should continue to be the Security Council

Javier Solana
Mr Solana insisted that the UN Security Council must be the centre of efforts to prevent what he called the "catastrophe" of war.

"There can be no excuse for slipping into war because of the dictates of logistics or the weather," he told the European Parliament.

Defence analysts have suggested that the United States would prefer military action sooner rather than later to avoid uncomfortably hot fighting conditions and extended deployment for its troops in the Gulf.

As Mr Solana spoke, hundreds of parliamentarians held up placards inscribed with anti-war slogans.

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Conflict with Iraq : Where Europe stands

Correspondents say his comments echo the increasing scepticism towards war expressed in recent days by the French and German governments.

Serious differences

Meanwhile German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder expressed doubt that diplomacy would succeed in averting a conflict.

Javier Solana
Solana welcomes US plans to share more intelligence
"The international situation, especially the crisis over Iraq is worrying me," he told a conference in the western town of Wesel. "I am worried about whether we will succeed in avoiding a war in Iraq.

There are serious differences in the EU over the implications of the report made by chief weapons inspector Hans Blix to the UN Security Council on Monday.

US supporters like the UK and Spain see the report as proof of Saddam Hussein's failure to comply.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Wednesday that there was a definite link between Baghdad and Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

His comments were made before his meeting in London with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is en route to Washington and Moscow to discuss the crisis.

Diplomacy role

On Monday the EU was able to agree a statement urging Iraq to comply with UN resolutions without delay and welcomed the inspectors' "intention to continue and intensify their operations".

Saddam Hussein
Fully or broadly behind US - UK, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Denmark
Fully or broadly opposed - France, Germany, Greece, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg
No clear position - Ireland, Portugal, Sweden, Finland
But Mr Solana appeared to go further, urging hardliners to give diplomacy a chance.

Some say that diplomacy is for the naive and weak," he said.

"Much better, say the hawks, to use force as quickly and decisively as possible, since only force will achieve results.

"I say that diplomacy must be not just the instrument of first resort, but at the centre of our efforts."

Earlier, Mr Solana reacted positively to the news that US Secretary of State Colin Powell was to present new information on Iraqi weapons to the Security Council.

"I welcome the fact that Colin Powell is to share ... intelligence with the United Nations," he said.

'Ready to listen'

Mr Solana's comments came as Russia continued to advocate a peaceful solution to the crisis amid continuing European divisions.

Vladimir Putin
Putin urges respects for international law
"We have to do everything possible to avoid a war," said Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.

Mr Ivanov also said Russia was "ready to listen and analyse attentively the additional information which the US secretary of state plans to present before the UN Security Council".

His statement follows suggestions by Mr Putin on Tuesday that Russia could change its position if Iraq started to present problems for the UN inspectors.

However, Russia has been firmly opposing the prospect of military action, saying there is no evidence to justify it.

And diplomats in Moscow say Russia will be expecting something more tangible from the US than UK Prime Minister Tony Blair's dossier on Iraq released in September 2002, which Mr Putin dismissed as propaganda.

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29 Jan 03 | Europe
29 Jan 03 | Americas
28 Jan 03 | Europe
27 Jan 03 | Europe
28 Jan 03 | Europe
28 Jan 03 | Politics
26 Jan 03 | Americas
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