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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 25 September, 2002, 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK
Straw promises Iraq vote
The United Nations in Iraq
Discussions continue about a UN resolution
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw believes Russia, China and France accept the need for a fresh United Nations resolution about Iraq.

The UK is locked in talks with America about tabling a draft new UN resolution aimed at tackling Iraq's alleged build-up of weapons of mass destruction.

Questioned by the Commons foreign affairs committee, Mr Straw said he could not "lift the veil" on Security Council negotiations and would not say whether the planned new resolution would threaten specific military action or give a deadline for Iraq to disarm.

Speaking after 56 Labour rebels used a technical Commons vote to oppose the government's stance on Iraq, Mr Straw also said MPs would get a proper vote on possible military action.

Vote precedents

But he added: "We cannot undertake to put down a motion immediately - shortly - before military action is commenced if the effect of that is to give the enemy advance notice of our activities."

That was why a substantive vote on the Gulf War was only taken four days after military action began, but action against Iraqi weapons sites in 1998 had been debated 10 months before it was taken, Mr Straw explained.

Jack Straw
Straw is to discuss Iraq on a visit to the Gulf

Those comments were hailed as a "victory for Parliament" by Donald Anderson, chairman of the foreign affairs committee.

The foreign secretary said a new UN resolution was not "essential" for action under international law, but it was desirable.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has said Russia would take part in consultations about a new resolution.

He emphasised Moscow's hope that the crisis could be resolved by peaceful means and it was not worth creating a "great propaganda furore" over the UK's dossier before weapons inspections.

Iran visit

Earlier, Mr Straw said Tony Blair and his ministers shared the anxieties of the Labour rebels who voiced their opposition to war with Iraq.

But the threat of force was the best chance of getting a peaceful resolution to the Iraqi crisis, Mr Straw told BBC Breakfast.

The UK intelligence dossier
Anti-war campaigners say the dossier has fuelled more doubts

On Wednesday, it was confirmed that Mr Straw is to go to Iran during a four-day visit to the Gulf next month in a tour the Foreign Office said was "Iraq related".

A Foreign Office spokesman told BBC News Online: "We have made plain all along that Saddam Hussein is a threat, not least to those in the region.

"So discussions will naturally focus on how we deal with that threat."

The extent of the Commons rebellion - which was supported by a number of MPs from other parties - gave a boost to campaigners as they announced details of an anti-war rally in London at the weekend.

The organisers - who include Labour rebels George Galloway and Jeremy Corbyn - claim the demonstration will be one of the biggest in Europe.


The cause is correct but the methods used are not

Ashley, London, England

President Bush is expected to put the resolution before the UN Security Council by the end of Thursday.

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy, who has voiced his party's grave reservations about any military action without UN backing, stressed the importance of a new resolution.

It had to be set out deadlines for Iraq to give full access to weapons inspectors and leave open the use of international force if that becomes that option of last resort, said Mr Kennedy.

Open in new window : Dossier at-a-glance
Iraq and weapons of mass destruction

US Secretary of State Colin Powell also said that a new UN resolution on Iraq had to contain a threat of force, because that was the only way to keep up the pressure on Saddam Hussein.

The UN talks continue a day after the government published its long-awaited dossier accusing Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein of continuing to develop weapons of mass destruction.

Baghdad immediately rubbished it as being full of "half truths and lies".


In the Commons on Tuesday Tony Blair won cautious support from most MPs as he said the case for disarming Saddam Hussein was overwhelming.

The Conservatives strongly support Mr Blair's stance, with leader Iain Duncan Smith saying that after "ten years of second chances" now was the time to act against Saddam Hussein.

Former cabinet minister Chris Smith was among those who highlighted the dangers of "go-it-alone" American action.




 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Vicki Young
"Britain is still pursuing the diplomatic route"
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
"There is anxiety about the idea that we may end up going to war"
The BBC's Luisa Baldini
"The public have strong opinions"
Mark Gwozdecky, Intnl Atomic Energy Agency
"There were some pieces of the dossier that were new to us and some that weren't"
 VOTE RESULTS
Is the Iraq dossier a compelling case?

Yes
 35.17% 

No
 64.83% 

38431 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


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25 Sep 02 | Politics
25 Sep 02 | Politics
25 Sep 02 | Politics
25 Sep 02 | Politics
25 Sep 02 | Politics
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