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EDITIONS
Thursday, 5 September, 2002, 19:16 GMT 20:16 UK
Number 10 rejects Iraq recall demands
Bush and Blair
The two leaders will discuss who could succeed Saddam
Downing Street has rejected growing demands for Parliament to be recalled from its summer break to debate the Iraq crisis.

Number 10 is anxious to calm the growing speculation about the prospect of war.


It would be absurd if the only place that remained silent is the one elected representative body of the people of Britain

Charles Kennedy
Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has joined calls from within Labour for MPs to get the chance to discuss possible military action as soon as Mr Blair returns from his weekend meeting with US President George Bush.

As diplomatic efforts over tackling the alleged threat of Iraq continued, it emerged that the prime minister will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin for talks in early October in Moscow.

Recall pressure

Government sources say it is a long planned meeting, but that Mr Blair regards President Putin as a vital player in decisions about how to confront Iraq.

There are growing signs that trade unions will voice their unease about possible military action over Iraq at next week's Trades Union Congress.

The TUC general council on Thursday stated its "unambiguous opposition to any military action being contemplated by the US or any other country on a unilateral basis".
Vladamir Putin
Vladimir Putin is seen as a key influence over Iraq

The TUC stressed the need for the "explicit authority" of the UN Security Council.

Charles Kennedy's demands for a recall of Parliament to discuss the crisis have been echoed by the leaders of the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru.

Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith stopped short of that call but said he wanted Mr Blair to consult MPs "at the very earliest opportunity".

But he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the prime minister should first publish his promised dossier of evidence against Saddam Hussein "within the next week".

'No urgency'

Commons leader Robin Cook has stressed that action against Iraq is neither "imminent nor inevitable".

"Therefore it is not an urgent case for Parliament returning but it is an issue we will keep under review," he said.

Downing Street was also playing down the significance of Mr Blair's planned meeting with President Bush at Camp David.

United Nations Security Council
The UN Security Council could hammer out a new resolution
A spokesman said the meeting flowed from Iraq's refusal to comply with UN resolutions and was not a "council of war".

President Bush has indicated he may seek a UN resolution to get weapons inspectors back into Iraq, easing fears of unilateral action by the US.

Former British ambassador to the UN, Sir Crisping Tickell told BBC Radio 4's The World at One that the five countries on UN Security Council could square its differences

He said the US should produce a draft resolution which could be hammered out with France, Russia, China.

'Unfettered access'

Tory leader Mr Duncan Smith has claimed there was evidence that Iraq was attempting to develop intercontinental missiles capable of targeting the UK.

He said it was only possible to avoid war if Iraq allowed "unfettered access" to UN weapons inspectors and "cleared away" all nuclear, chemical and biological materials. "The lesson history teaches us is that if you stand back and say a threat like this is not a threat then it later on it becomes almost impossible to deal with it," he added.

Poster of Saddam Hussein
Saddam says Iraq will resist aggression
Charles Kennedy, by contrast, has said he has not seen sufficient evidence to justify a pre-emptive strike on Iraq.

But he told Today MPs needed a chance to "quiz the prime minister in much greater detail over what is going on and what the strategies under consideration now are."

Journalists had been given a chance to quiz Mr Blair in his Sedgefield constituency and Iraq was due to be debated at the TUC Conference, Mr Kennedy said.

"It would, quite frankly, be absurd if the only place that remained silent, in the middle of all this, is the one elected representative body of the people of Britain," Mr Kennedy said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Robin Aitken
"Many Labour MPs... want a debate in the Commons"

Main stories

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IN PICTURES

TALKING POINT

FORUM

THE IRAQ DOSSIER
See also:

05 Sep 02 | Politics
05 Sep 02 | Politics
05 Sep 02 | Politics
04 Sep 02 | Politics
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