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Monday, 30 September, 2002, 21:01 GMT 22:01 UK
US lawmakers push diplomacy in Iraq
US congressmen in Iraq, from left: David Bonior, Mike Thompson and Jim McDermott with an unidentified Iraqi official
The congressmen brought an anti-war message
Three US lawmakers visiting Baghdad have urged both Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and US President George Bush to let weapons inspectors do their work in peace.

They stressed there was still a diplomatic way out of the current stand-off, which has the US threatening military action to rid Iraq of the weapons of mass destruction that it alleges Baghdad is hoarding.

Mike Thompson talks to a patient in a hospital through an interpreter
The politicians wanted to see the humanitarian situation for themselves
Correspondents say the three men - all from the Democratic Party - are a sign of the divisions within US politics over action in Iraq. President Bush is currently pushing Congress to give him the power he wants to attack Iraq if necessary.

The three members of the House of Representatives - David Bonior, Jim McDermott and Mike Thompson - have been in Iraq for four days to assess the humanitarian situation.

At the end of their stay, they pressed both the Iraqi and the US administrations to give the return of the weapons inspectors a chance.

Open in new window : Iraq Weapons
Iraqi chemical and biological weapons

Mr Thompson, of Michigan, said: "There is a way to solve this crisis without war.

"It is for the Iraqis not to interfere and for the United States not to interfere in the inspections process."

Americans 'undecided'

Mr McDermott, of Washington state, said the US should concentrate on making sure Iraq was safe, not toppling its leader.

Representative Jim McDermott walks past a picture of Saddam Hussein
Jim McDermott said former President Jimmy Carter could monitor inspections
"Regime change requires war, disarming can be done diplomatically," he said.

Mr McDermott said the American people had not made up its mind and were debating the need for action as were the rest of the world.

He also suggested that former President Jimmy Carter, who has become involved in peace-making and monitoring elections, could check that the UN inspectors were allowed to do their checks unhindered.

The return of weapons inspectors is currently being discussed by UN and Iraqi representatives in Vienna.


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30 Sep 02 | Middle East
30 Sep 02 | Americas
30 Sep 02 | Middle East
30 Sep 02 | Europe
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29 Sep 02 | Middle East
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