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US, Britain Propose March 17 Deadline for Iraqi UN Compliance - 2003-03-07


United States and Britain are proposing a March 17 deadline for Iraq to comply with United Nations disarmament demands. Secretary of State Colin Powell is also rejecting a suggestion from France that heads of state meet to try to overcome differences over Iraq that were again on display at the Security Council Friday.

After another report from top U.N. weapons inspectors, Secretary of State Colin Powell says it remains clear Iraq is not disarming.

"Iraq still is not fully complying, unconditionally complying, immediately complying," Secretary Powell said.

That was clear, he said, from the latest disarmament report from chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix, who told the Security Council Baghdad is providing active cooperation but not full disarmament. Still, France, China and Russia have not changed their view that inspections should be allowed to continue.

"There is a fundamental difference of opinion as to what Iraq is doing," he said.

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin again threatened a French veto of a U.S. and British-backed resolution that would clear the way for military force to disarm Iraq. And, he called for a rare U.N. Security Council session at the level of heads of state to meet to take up the Iraq issue. That was immediately rejected by the United States, which has, with Britain, proposed a new resolution that would give Iraq until March 17 to demonstrate full compliance with disarmament demands or face war.

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