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Friday, 18 October, 2002, 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK
US seeks to break Iraq deadlock
US jet
The US says it is prepared to act without the UN
The United States says it will soon submit a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council "with clear and immediate requirements" for Iraq if it does not co-operate with UN weapons inspections.

The US's intentions, revealed by its ambassador to the United Nations, John Negroponte, come as diplomatic manoeuvering continues between the permanent members of the Security Council to resolve their differences over Iraq.

We believe that there are favourable conditions now to preserve the unity of the global community and ensure the return of international inspectors and their efficient work in Iraq

Igor Ivanov

The five permanent members of the Security Council - China, France, Russia, the US and UK - are meeting later on Friday to try to end weeks of wrangling over the wording of any new resolution.

The UK Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, told the BBC on Friday that "all the permanent members say yes, they now accept that Iraq is in flagrant breach of its obligations".

The BBC's State Department correspondent, Jon Leyne, says the new American draft resolution is designed to overcome France's insistence that military action should only be used after the Security Council passes a second resolution.

Open in new window : Who backs war?
Where key nations stand on Iraq

The US is now proposing a two-step approach to the possible use of force, but still contained within one resolution.

Our correspondent says the Americans have not conceded the crucial point of having to return to the UN and are effectively presenting an ultimatum - accept this as our last offer or we go it alone.

What is wrong with the French proposal?

Neil, USA/ expat in Europe
Mr Straw told the BBC that the UK had also "always made clear that we prefer one comprehensive resolution".

Now that the US has won the support of the Russians, France is isolated, our correspondent says. It can either back down or cast its first veto against the Americans for nearly 50 years.

A French diplomat told Reuters news agency that negotiations were continuing but that: "So far, the US changes are acceptable to France."

UN Security Council
The debate goes on at the Security Council

The US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, said Washington would continue consulting with its UN partners, but that President George W Bush had to act in the best interests of the US whether or not the UN was engaged.

Earlier Russia's Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, said he believed that there were "favourable conditions" for council agreement on a resolution that will lead to the quick return of weapons inspectors.

Threat of war

Mr Negroponte's comments came in a speech to the Security Council as part of a UN debate on Iraq.

Mr Negroponte said that the draft resolution would "address Iraq's material breach of its obligations" under existing resolutions, set new terms for UN arms inspectors and "articulate to Iraq that there will be consequences to non-compliance," he said.

He said that he hoped "the use of force will not be necessary", but he quoted Mr Bush as saying that if Iraq refused to disarm, the US would lead a coalition to disarm it.

Arab and non-aligned nations have been using the debate to express their opposition to a draft resolution permitting military action against Iraq if it does not co-operate with weapons inspectors.

In addition to the five permanent members, the Security Council has 10 non-permanent members.

The BBC's Paul Adams
"In the United Nations a furious diplomatic tug of war goes on"
John Negroponte, US Ambassador to the UN
"We are considering the reactions we have received"
Dumisani Kumalo, UN Ambassador for South Africa
"It there is a chance for peace, we would rather take it"

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16 Oct 02 | Europe
11 Oct 02 | Middle East
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