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Saddam Should be Dealt with Through UN, Says Canadian Foreign Minister - 2002-06-26

President Bush is in Kananaskis, Alberta where he and leaders of seven other nations participate in this year's Group of Eight economic summit that begins Wednesday. But before discussions on the economy could begin, Canada's foreign minister has voiced opposition to possible U.S. moves to depose Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

An exchange between Canadian foreign minister Bill Graham and a protester enlivened a self-styled People's Summit at the University of Calgary.

"Would you assure this audience, Canadians and the world, that Canada will maintain an honest broker's position and support the United Nations and international law, and will not support unilateral U.S. action against Iraq?" asked a participant.

When the applause died down, Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham said he believes the United Nations has the central role in dealing with Iraq.

"We don't wish to see Mr. Saddam Hussein acquire weapons of mass destruction," he explained. "And we don't wish to see what can be done with them. So we do have to recognize there is a security issue there. But we strongly endorse doing that through the United Nations. Because that is the world forum designed by us to have an international response to this. That's where Canadians are on this and we'll stay there."

While the two day summit's centerpiece is a new development partnership for Africa, there will be considerable discussion of Iraq, the middle east and other world hot spots. That Canada, traditionally America's closest ally, is distancing itself from Washington on Iraq may indicate that Mr. Bush will have a tough time winning allied support for his policies.