France, Russia and Italy Challenge Bush's 'Saber-Rattling'

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 20 Oct 2002 11:01:25 +0100

America Fails to Woo Key Allies 

AMERICA and its key allies were in open dispute over Iraq last night
after President Bush warned the world that it could be held hostage by
President Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. 

He faced a humiliating rebuff, however, from European leaders and from a
growing majority of members of the United Nations, who are refusing to
give America a mandate to use force against Iraq. 

Baghdad “will give up its weapons of mass destruction” or “the United
States will lead a global coalition to disarm the regime”, Mr Bush
insisted as he signed a congressional resolution authorizing the use of
force against Iraq. 

Directly addressing France, Russia and other skeptics, he continued: “If
Iraq gains even greater destructive power, nations in the Middle East
would face blackmail, intimidation or attack. Chaos in that region would
be felt in Europe and beyond . . . Those who choose to live in denial
may eventually be forced to live in fear.” 

France, Italy and Russia publicly decried Washington’s saber-rattling,
while in New York a marathon two-day UN debate on Iraq opened with a
string of countries coming out against the US position. President Chirac
of France, which has spent a month resisting US demands for a UN
Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force, said on a
visit to Egypt: “War is the worst response a man could imagine.
Everything must be done to avoid it.” 

Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister, said after talks with
President Putin in Moscow that Iraq “does not any longer have any
weapons of mass destruction because they have all been eliminated”.
Signor Berlusconi agreed with Mr Putin that any UN resolution should
include no reference to the use of force. 

Yuri Fedotov, Moscow’s Deputy Foreign Minister, said America’s proposed
UN resolution was “unacceptable and Russia cannot support it”. 

Iraq praised the French position. “We are proud of France’s friendship
for the Arabs,” Ezzat Ibrahim, the Iraqi Vice-President, said. 

British sources said they feared that unless the deadlock over a new
resolution was broken soon Washington’s hawks would prevail on Mr Bush
to give up on the UN and take unilateral action against Iraq. Mr Bush
hinted as much when he said: “If any doubt our nation’s resolve, our
determination, they would be unwise to test it.” 

Britain, which sees itself as a mediator, said that there was still time
to find a compromise. Tony Blair told MPs: “I believe that we will
achieve a consensus on this internationally and the reason for that is
that most people, when they reflect upon it, do understand that weapons
of mass destruction are an issue, do understand that it is not safe for
the world to have chemical, biological, potentially nuclear weapons and
do understand that the world community has got to make it clear that
he’s got to be disarmed of those weapons. I hope that it is done through
the UN, and that is what I am trying to achieve.” 

Mr Bush reiterated tough conditions that he wants in a new resolution.
They included: the right of inspectors to visit any sites in Iraq; the
right of inspectors to interview witnesses and their families outside
the country; the end of persecution of Iraqi civilians; halting the
illegal smuggling of oil; and accounting for more than 600 prisoners of
war missing since the Gulf War. 

America wants these conditions included in a new resolution that would
allow the use of force if Baghdad did not comply. The only hint of a
compromise came from Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, who told
The Times that full access for inspectors was the US’s bottom line. He
hinted, however, that the US could drop its request for armed guards to
accompany inspectors and the right to send US officials to oversee

He also tried to reassure wary allies that the US would not take
automatic military action if Baghdad obstructed them. If the inspectors
were prevented from doing their job “there’s going to be a discussion
with the (Security) Council”, he said. State Department officials made
clear, however, that General Powell intended to “get tough” with France.

But his position did not soften attitudes at the UN. Dumisani Kumalo,
the South African envoy, whose country is the head of the 114-nation
Non-Aligned Movement, said that the UN should accept Baghdad’s offer to
allow weapons inspectors back into Iraq. 

Source:  Times

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