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US Envoy Travels to France, Russia to Discuss Iraq - 2002-09-27

The United States has sent a senior diplomat to France and Russia in hopes of winning support for a new U.N. resolution demanding that Iraq disarm or face military action.

The envoy, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman, met with advisers to French President Jacques Chirac and French Foreign Ministry officials in Paris Friday. No details on the talks were released.

Mr. Grossman heads to Moscow Saturday.

Both France and Russia have expressed reservations about using force against Iraq. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Friday Russia has seen "no clear proof" that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.

Speaking to reporters in Moscow, Mr. Ivanov said U.N. weapons inspectors must return to Iraq. He said delaying their departure would be an "unforgivable mistake."

Thursday, Secretary of State Colin Powell announced that the United States and Britain have agreed on language for the proposed U.N. resolution. But Mr. Powell acknowledged it will be difficult to win acceptance from the other three members of the U.N. Security Council: France, Russia, and China.

The U.S. draft spells out what Iraq must do to satisfy previous mandates and outlines consequences for Iraq if it fails to disarm. France has proposed two resolutions: one laying out the rules for the return of U.N. weapons inspectors and another authorizing the use of force if needed.

Meanwhile, President Bush says he is moving toward agreement with Congress authorizing the use of force against Iraq. But many Democratic lawmakers disagree.

Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy said Friday that war against Iraq should be a last resort, not a first response. He said Washington's top priority should be getting U.N. weapons inspectors back into Iraq.