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Security Council Remains Divided on Iraq - 2003-03-14

The United Nations Security Council is still sharply divided about how to get Iraq to disarm amid stepped up diplomatic activity aimed at resolving the crisis peacefully. Amy Katz has details.

U.S. President George W. Bush will travel to the Azores Islands this weekend for a summit with the British and Spanish Prime Ministers to discuss strategy before a possible U.N. vote on a new Iraqi disarmament resolution.

Mr. Bush, Tony Blair of Britain and Jose Maria Aznar of Spain will meet to, as the White House put it, “pursue every last bit of diplomacy,” as the three nations face stiff opposition in the Security Council to their draft resolution, which sets a deadline for Iraq to disarm or face military action.

Diplomats at the U.N. have been holding intense discussions on the draft resolution, with six of the 15 members of the Security Council still undecided. One of them – Chile – released a new proposal Friday, giving Iraq more time to disarm, something the White House quickly dismissed.

Guinea, which currently holds the rotating Presidency of the Security Council, is one of the undecided countries. A delegation from France, which opposes a new resolution. visited Guinea this week. So did a delegation from Great Britain, which backs a resolution.

French President Jacques Chirac, who has been a strong opponent of using force against Iraq, and who has threatened to veto a new resolution, said Friday he is ready to work with Britain on ways to disarm Iraq, but he continues to reject any ultimatum.

Earlier, Australian Prime Minister John Howard criticized the French position. As did top Japanese officials.

In Germany, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said the majority of the Security Council still believes Iraq can be disarmed peacefully.

In Iraq Friday, U.N. weapons inspectors continued to search for banned weapons and watched as Iraq destroyed four more of its al-Samoud-two missiles. More than half of the arsenal has now been scrapped. At the same time Iraq said it was going to submit a report to the U.N., on the nerve gas V-X. Baghdad also said it was going to give the U.N. a report on Anthrax in a few more days.