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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 18 March, 2003, 01:17 GMT
Iraq crisis hour-by-hour: 16-17 March
BBC News Online charts developments in the Iraq crisis hour-by-hour as diplomatic efforts to avert a war expire. [All times GMT and approximate]

Monday 17 March

2114 Australian Prime Minister John Howard commits troops to join any US-led war with Iraq.

2019 The Turkish Government says it will urgently address the issue of whether more than 60,000 US troops should be allowed to move into northern Iraq from Turkish soil.

1843 French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin says the decision by the US, Britain and Spain to abandon diplomacy "could have heavy consequences for the region and for the world".

1831 Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri rejects a US ultimatum for President Saddam Hussein to leave the country or face war, describing President George W Bush as "the number one warmonger in the world".

1737 UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announces he has ordered the evacuation of arms inspectors from Iraq and suspended the oil-for-food programme.

1610 A leading member of the British Government, the former foreign secretary, Robin Cook, resigns his post as Leader of the House of Commons, saying he cannot support a war without international agreement or domestic support.

1515 The White House announces that US President George W Bush is to address the nation at 0100GMT on Tuesday. He is expected to issue Saddam Hussein with an ultimatum: leave the country or face war.

1500 UK ambassador to the UN Sir Jeremy Greenstock says the diplomatic process on Iraq has concluded and announces the withdrawal of a draft resolution co-sponsored by the US and Spain.

1355 Closure of Pakistan's embassy in Baghdad announced.

1353 Britain's Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith confirms in a written parliamentary statement that war on Iraq would be legal on the grounds of existing UN resolutions.

1328 Greece which holds the EU presidency says Britain and Spain have aligned themselves with the US on the Iraq crisis outside the framework of the EU.

1301 Closure of Greece's embassy in Baghdad announced.

1115 Russian President Vladimir Putin says war against Iraq would be a "mistake".

1115 China announces it is evacuating its embassy staff and Chinese journalists from Baghdad.

1009 UN's nuclear agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei says Washington has advised weapons inspectors to leave Iraq.

1009 Russia advises its nationals to leave Iraq.

0845 China's Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing says the Iraq issue should be solved through dialogue within the UN.

0815 Russia's deputy foreign minister Yuri Fedotov is quoted as saying that a second UN resolution has "no chance".

0720 French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin reiterates that a second UN resolution on Iraq is "unacceptable".

0630 UK advises all its citizens, except diplomatic staff, to leave Kuwait

0600 Reports emerge that UN observers stationed along Kuwait's border with Iraq have ceased all operations.

0430 Australian Prime Minister John Howard says participation of his country in any conflict with Iraq is getting "more likely".

0130 US orders non-essential diplomats to leave Israel, Syria and Kuwait.

0001 In a pre-recorded interview on CNN, French President Jacques Chirac maintains threat to veto a second resolution, and says Paris is willing to compromise on how long UN arms inspections in Iraq should last.

Sunday 16 March

1915 In pre-recorded comments, Iraqi President Saddam says it is a "great lie" that Iraq has banned weapons and vows his country will fight "anywhere in the world" if the US invades.

Shortly afterwards, in an interview with Dubai-based al-Arabiya TV, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri warns that tens of thousands of Iraqis have pledged to sacrifice their lives in operations against the US.

1835 The three emerge from their summit to announce there is a small window for diplomacy; President Bush declares Monday a "moment of truth" for the international community.

1710 US, UK and Spanish leaders meet in the mid-Atlantic Azores islands for what they denied was a council of war.


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