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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 19 February, 2003, 14:58 GMT
Nato approves Turkey mission
A Nato Awacs radar plane in flight
Nato equipment is bound for Turkey
Nato has approved a plan to send defensive equipment to Turkey, after a compromise that papered over a damaging split in the military alliance's Iraq policy.

The alliance is to dispatch Awacs radar planes, Patriot anti-missile batteries and chemical and biological response units to Turkey - the only Nato member that borders Iraq.

The Turkish Government, meanwhile, has failed to reach a decision on whether to allow tens of thousands of American troops to be stationed on Turkish soil, which could enable America to invade Iraq from the north.

As diplomatic differences over how to deal with Iraq continued, US Secretary of State Colin Powell raised the stakes by implicitly accusing France of being afraid to use force.

France has been among the most outspoken in urging the US not to rush into combat - although dozens of diplomats lined up at the UN on Tuesday to argue that weapons inspectors should be given more time.

19 February - Private consultations between UN Security Council members
1 March - Hans Blix presents quarterly report at UN on progress of
3-4 March - New moon gives optimum conditions for night fighting in Iraq
14 March- France's proposed date for UN inspectors to report again to Security Council
Mr Powell warned against stalling indefinitely.

"It cannot be a satisfactory solution for inspections just to continue forever because certain nations are afraid of stepping up to the responsibility of imposing the will of the international community," he told a French radio station.

Washington argues that Iraq has flouted UN resolutions for more than a decade.

New resolution

The Americans and British are drafting a new UN resolution on Iraq. It may be circulated as early as this week.

"We are working with our friends and allies to see if we can get a second resolution," President George W Bush said in Washington.

But he repeated that UN backing, though useful, was not necessary.

In the face of strong opposition from France and other Security Council members, diplomats say the US and Britain are toning down what was supposed to be a very tough resolution.

In other developments:

  • The Pentagon ordered 28,000 more troops to the Gulf, including the highly mobile 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment

  • Pope John Paul II stressed the role of the UN in the crisis at a meeting with Secretary General Kofi Annan in the Vatican

  • The UN reported slow progress on interviewing Iraqi scientists in private

Where the key nations stand on military conflict in Iraq

Washington warned Turkey time was running out for it to decide whether to allow US troops to deploy on its soil.

But a Turkish Government spokesman said there were still political, military and financial issues to resolve before it could seek parliament's approval on the matter.

Earlier, Turkey declared that a second UN resolution would be required before it could permit US troops to use its bases.

British position

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair - America's closest public ally on the issue - has made clear he would like a second resolution explicitly authorising the use of force against Iraq.

Facing deep public hostility at home over his support for war, Downing Street officials hope that a resolution sanctioned by the UN would win over doubters.

US Marine Corps M1-A1 tank Commanders from the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines in Kuwait
The US has thousands of troops in the Gulf
Asked about the anti-war demonstrations that drew millions world-wide at the weekend, Mr Bush said war was his last choice but the risk of doing nothing was a worse option.

"Some in the world don't view Saddam Hussein as a risk to peace," Mr Bush said. "I respectfully disagree."

The Governments of France, Russia and China - who along with the US and Britain wield vetoes in the Council - have also expressed clear reservations about war.

French President Jacques Chirac on Monday said that he would oppose any effort to draft a resolution authorising war at this time, and implied he would be prepared to use the French veto to block it.



The BBC's Gillian Ni Cheallaigh
"No-one needs that resolution to go through more than the British prime minister"

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