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Bush: US can bypass UN on Iraq
( 2002-10-27 11:58 ) (7 )

President Bush said Saturday that the United States will lead a coalition against Iraq if the United Nations does not pass a strong resolution insisting Saddam Hussein disarm.

The White House said it would be "not very hard at all" to assemble an alliance without U.N. help.

"If the United Nations does not pass a resolution which holds him to account and that has consequences," Bush said, "we will lead the coalition to disarm him."

Bush spoke at the side of Mexican President Vicente Fox, who hosted an economic conference of Pacific Rim nations. Mexico does not support the hard-line resolution Bush seeks.

Bush was asked after the appearance whether he heard what he wanted to hear from Fox on Iraq. He shook his head and said yes.

"We did talk about world peace and Iraq," Bush said during their news conference, noting that Mexico is a member of the U.N. Security Council. "We discussed how to keep the world peaceful, how to hold people to account, how to make sure the United Nations is effective."

Fox said he stressed his hopes the United Nations could resolve the impasse, but gave no indication he would yield to Bush's demand for a resolution with "consequences."

"We are listening and talking and we want to search for and do everything possible for a strong resolution, a resolution that will result in the prompt return of inspectors, that Iraq complies with the existing agreements with the United Nations," Fox said.

Bush is unrelenting in his demand for a resolution that promises consequences, potentially military action, if the Iraqi president does not give up his weapons programs, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

The new resolution Bush wants also would hold Saddam in "material breach" of previous resolutions requiring him to give up those programs.

"We hope the council will be strong and send a signal to Saddam Hussein that this time the world means business," Fleischer said aboard Air Force One during Bush's flight to Mexico.

"No one has ruled out the possibility that the U.N. will fail" to live up "to the challenge of the threat of Saddam Hussein," Fleischer said.

Asked how difficult it would be to confront the Iraqi president without U.N. backing if Bush fails to win U.N. support, Fleischer replied, "Not very hard at all."

Fleischer dismissed reports by the French, Russia and other U.N. nations that a watered down version of a U.N. resolution on Iraq is gaining steam.

France said its new proposal has more support because it eliminates tough US language that many fear could trigger an attack.

But the United States said its draft has equal backing if not more.

The decision by France and Russia to introduce their own proposals Friday and challenge the new US draft resolution suddenly put three documents into the hands of the 15 Security Council nations, setting the stage for tense negotiations.

The rival documents reflect the division among the five veto-wielding permanent council members, who could not resolve their differences over a new approach to Iraq during six weeks of negotiations.

Russia, Iraq's closest council ally, wants to stick as closely as possible to current inspection rules and eliminate any language that could allow an attack on Baghdad.

France, which sees itself as a potential broker between Washington and Moscow, opposes any language possibly authorizing military action and wants to water down some US inspection proposals.

US deputy ambassador James Cunningham made clear the United States wants a vote on its resolution by the end of next week. Diplomats said the vote will almost certainly take place by Thursday.

The United States responded to the rival texts by formally submitting its resolution to the Security Council on Friday to ensure it remains the basis for discussion. The Russian and French proposals also could be introduced, but the US move means its resolution likely would be voted on first.

For adoption, a resolution must receive nine "yes" votes and no veto by another permanent member Russia, France, China and Britain.



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