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White House Confident About Support to Disarm Iraq - 2003-01-23

The White House says it is confident it will get support both at home and abroad, if President Bush decides to disarm Iraq by force.

White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer is downplaying French and German opposition to the use of force in Iraq, and new public opinion polls in the United States that show support for the president's Iraq policy may be slipping.

The White House spokesman says, if the president decides to take military action to disarm Iraq, a multilateral coalition will emerge. He acknowledged a few good friends of the United States may sit on the sidelines, but stressed many more will heed the call.

Mr. Fleischer made specific mention of France, which has suggested it might use its position as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council to veto a resolution on the use of force.

He said it is possible France will not be on the line. As for help from NATO, which operates on a consensus of its members, the White House spokesman said simply, "let it evolve."

He also took issue with the latest public opinion polls in the United States, which show most Americans want to give U.N. inspectors more time. He said the president will not base his decision on the use of force on poll results, and said Americans will stand with Mr. Bush, should he opt for military action.