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British Compromise on Iraq Fails to Find UN Security Council Agreement

After closed-door consultation at the United Nations Thursday on a U.S.-backed second resolution on Iraq, the 15 member Security Council failed to reach an agreement on a British compromise proposal to bridge the group's deep divide. Six undecided nations on the council are expected to present their own ideas soon.

The six undecided, so-called "swing votes" on the Security Council, Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Guinea, Mexico and Pakistan, are discussing their own ideas to resolve the intense disagreement on how to proceed next in the Iraqi crisis.

They have apparently rejected the most recent British document that set out six specific criteria for Iraq to prove that it is disarming its weapons of mass destruction.

But Mexico's Ambassador to the United Nations, Adolfo Aguilar Zinser would not reveal the details of the uncommitted countries' efforts. "The government of Mexico has instructed me to carry out some diplomatic activities here in the direction of looking for a consensus in the Council. I am not instructed to discuss them publicly," he said.

Few of the uncommitted six would publicly articulate their position on the British proposal. Pakistan's U.N. Ambassador said at the moment, "there is no clear way out," but they are trying to be helpful.

The British document, circulated on Wednesday, was the most recent attempt to reach a compromise that would give Britain, Spain and the United States the nine votes they need, without a negative vote by permanent members, China, France and Russia, to pass a draft resolution that sets a March 17 deadline for Saddam Hussein to disarm or authorizes military force.

However, Spain's U.N. Ambassador, Inocencio Arias, told reporters in Spanish that Chile and Mexico are not pleased with the British document. I do not want to lie to you. One or two said this proposal like that, we can not buy it, we can keep talking, but like that, we are not in love with it," he said.

The United States and Britain have said they will not bring the draft resolution, setting the March 17 deadline, to a vote on Friday. U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said that although time is running out and the council is no closer to an agreement, diplomacy should be given "a little bit of time" to work. "It has been a protracted process and obviously time is running short. I think, however, we have wanted, especially in light of the [British] initiative of yesterday, to go the extra mile as far as seeing if we can reach some kind of a basis for understanding in the council," he said.

Informal discussions on the next step to take in the Iraqi crisis are expected to continue Friday and chief U.N. Inspector Hans Blix is scheduled to give his next report, with specific measures on Iraqi disarmament, on Monday.